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3rd Fla. corrections officer dies from COVID-19

Johnnie Brown, who worked at the Reception and Medical Center, had been with the agency for almost 15 years

By Grace Toohey
Orlando Sentinel

LAKE BUTLER, Fla. — The third corrections officer working in Florida’s prison system that has been ravaged by coronavirus died last week, the Florida Department of Corrections confirmed Wednesday.

Officer Johnnie Brown, who had been with the agency for almost 15 years, died Aug. 10 after testing positive for COVID-19. His family reported his death to the agency.

He worked at the Reception and Medical Center in Lake Butler, where 36 staff and almost 200 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, according to FDC. He is the first to have died who worked or was incarcerated at that facility, according the Department of Health’s report on FDC deaths, though the report was not updated as of this week.

Across the state’s vast prison system with 57 major facilities, more than 15,000 inmates and 2,300 staff have tested positive, and 77 inmates have died, according to FDC.

The Miami Herald reported that the first corrections officer, who had worked at Jackson Correctional Institution in the Panhandle, died in late July, within the hour that his wife also died of the respiratory virus. The second officer who died of COVID-19 worked at the Florida Women’s Reception Center in Ocala, the Herald reported.

“Officer Brown’s loss will be felt by many, his character and contributions as a correctional officer to the Florida Department of Corrections will be remembered by all who worked alongside him each day,” said FDC Secretary Mark Inch in a statement. Inch has also tested positive for COVID-19, as has his deputy secretary.

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©2020 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

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