Telford Unit correctional officer dies from COVID-19 complications

NEW BOSTON, Texas - The Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced Monday the death Sunday of a Barry Telford Unit correctional officer.

Coy D. Coffman Jr., 65, was a nine-year veteran of TDCJ's force of correctional officers.

"On April 14, 2020, he began suffering symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and was tested the next day. On April 17th, he was admitted to a local hospital in Texarkana due to possible complications from COVID-19. Coffman's test returned positive on April 19th. Several days later his condition began deteriorating and sadly Coffman passed away yesterday (Sunday) evening," TDCJ's website states.

According to TDCJ, Coffman had not been at work since April 5.

"The COVID-19 virus has changed our state and our agency forever, but no one can imagine the impact to the Coffman family who has lost someone so close," Executive Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Bryan Collier said. "The thoughts and prayers of the TDCJ family are with those close to Officer Coffman. He died in the service of all Texans."

Bowie County First Assistant District Attorney and Arklatex 100 Club President Kelley Crisp said Coffman's death is a loss for all who knew him and for those whose lives his service protected. Crisp said Arklatex 100 made a $15,000 bereavement grant to Coffman's widow Monday morning.

"We learned over the weekend that Officer Coffman lost his battle with COVID-19 and join with his brothers and sisters in the law enforcement and corrections community in mourning his loss and praying for his family. Today we awarded his widow Mrs. Debbie Coffman a $15,000.00 bereavement grant to assist with any immediate financial needs of the family. Mrs. Coffman was extraordinarily grateful when we spoke and she repeatedly thanked the 100 Club for supporting her family," Crisp said. "We've all become more aware and appreciative in recent weeks of the sacrifices made and risks taken by our front-line workers in healthcare, grocery stores and supply chains and our law-enforcement community including corrections officers. Officer Coffman paid the ultimate price in protecting us as he served our community and we should be forever grateful for his service and sacrifice."

TDCJ reports that as of Monday, 34 staff at the Telford Unit have tested positively for COVID-19. The agency reports 325 staff and contractors statewide have tested positively. TDCJ reported Monday that 36 inmates currently housed at the Telford Unit have tested positively and that no tests are pending. The agency reports that 36 inmates are in medical isolation.

Medical isolation is used "for people who are sick and contagious. Isolation is used to separate ill persons who have a communicable disease from those who are healthy," according to TDCJ's website.

TDCJ reports Monday that 908 Telford inmates are in medical restriction which is "used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms."

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