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Fla. jail officer dies from COVID-19 amid jump in infections

Master Corrections Officer Shannon Browning died on July 23; she was 40

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By Lisa Maria Garza
Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO, Fla. — An Orange County Corrections officer died last month of COVID-19 amid a spike of infections at the facility, a department spokesperson said Monday.

Shannon Browning

Shannon Browning had been with the department since 2004.

Master Corrections Officer Shannon Browning, 40, died on July 23, according to jail spokesperson Tracy Zampaglione. Browning joined the department in 2004.

As of Monday, there are 63 people incarcerated at the Orange County Jail with COVID-19 — about 3% of the current population — and 37 correctional staffers, Zampaglione said.

The number of jail staffers currently infected is more than double the 14 employees documented during an earlier outbreak in the jail in February.

Asked if the jail’s protocols have changed during the latest outbreak, Zampaglione said the facility has “had strict protocols in place since the start of the pandemic to include social distancing and face mask requirements.”

According to her obituary, Browning’s passion for law enforcement began with her previous job as an undercover security officer for Target.

Browning, an Orlando native, is survived by her 14-year-old daughter and 15-year old son.

A PayPal fundraiser for Browning’s children, organized by her sister, has so far raised about $7,000 of its $10,000 goal.

On the fundraiser page, Browning’s sister Kristi Gay wrote that Browning was a single mom who recently returned to duty after three months of recovering from an injury that drained her finances.

“She only had three weeks back on duty before this happened which just wasn’t enough,” Gay wrote. “Her children need stability and assurance in some aspects of their life and right now the most important thing is to keep them in the house that holds so many fond memories of their mom.”

The spike in infections at the jail comes as Mayor Jerry Demings has declared a state of emergency in Orange County due to skyrocketing new infections and positive test rates associated with the highly contagious delta variant of the COVID-19 virus.

In an email to staffers on the day he announced the emergency, Demings made reference to the recent loss of a county employee, though he did not mention Browning by name.

“It saddens me to share that we lost an employee to COVID-19 last week,” Demings said in the Wednesday email, which also announced that all county employees would be required to get fully vaccinated by Sept. 30. “Anytime we lose one of our own Orange County Government family members, it is devastating.”

In her obituary, Browning’s family paraphrased a Bible verse from 2 Corinthians: “She was pressed on every side with troubles but, she did not let it crush her or break her. She didn’t understand why things happen as they do. But she never gave up, she never quit.”

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