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Stiles Unit guard is 43rd TDCJ employee to die in connection with COVID-19

She died less than two months after beginning her career as a correctional officer.

BEAUMONT, Texas — A Southeast Texas correctional officer who had just begun her career in January has become the latest TDCJ employee to die in connection to the coronavirus. 

Tracey Adams, 45, died early Saturday morning after being hospitalized with COVID-19 for nearly a month according to a news release from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Adams, who was a “correctional officer III cadet” at the Stiles Unit in Beaumont, had been a TDCJ employee for less than two months the release said. She began her career with the department on January 19, 2021.

She tested positive for COVID-19 after showing symptoms on February 11, 2021 and was hospitalized the next day according to the release.

“She dedicated herself completely to that service and for that we are grateful,” TDCJ executive director Bryan Collier said of her new career with the department.

Credit: TDCJ

“Once you join the TDCJ family you are a part of that family and we are in this together. We hold the Adams family in our prayers this day. Know that Ms. Adams will be missed and remembered,” he said.

Adams is the 43rd TDCJ employee to die due to the coronavirus, according to the release.

Sheriff Zena Stephens works alongside corrections officers at the Jefferson County Jail. 

"If you're that person who is missing from your family, if you're a husband or a wife who is missing from your family, one is too many," she said. "And so, we've lost too many people in my opinion, whether they're guards or police officers or doctors or people who work at the grocery stores."

While she is not in charge of the Stiles Unit, she said more needs to be done to protect all correctional officers from the coronavirus. 

"As a community, as a governmental agency or many governmental agencies, we have to make sure that we take care of those people," she said. "Because the death wasn't violent, it doesn't mean that it was not, you know, presumptive in line of duty death."

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This is a developing story. We will update with more if and when we receive more confirmed information.

From a Texas Department of Criminal Justice news release…

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is grieving the loss of an employee that is connected to the COVID-19 virus.

45-year-old Correctional Officer III Cadet Tracey Adams had two months of service with the TDCJ and was assigned to The Stiles Unit in Beaumont. Adams began her career with the TDCJ on January 19, 2021. She tested positive for COVID-19 after having symptoms on February 11, 2021. She was hospitalized In a Beaumont area hospital the next day. Tracey Adams died in the morning hours of March 6, 2021.

“Tracey Adams was beginning a new career with the TDCJ family,” said TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier. “She dedicated herself completely to that service and for that we are grateful. Once you join the TDCJ family you are a part of that family and we are in this together. We hold the Adams family in our prayers this day. Know that Ms. Adams will be missed and remembered.”

“Officer Adams was very determined and driven to succeed. She told us she wanted to be the best officer she could be,” said TDCJ Training and Leader Development Division Director David Yebra. “Starting a new career can be difficult but she took on that challenge head on and full steam. Our hope is that her family finds comfort in this difficult time knowing she chose to serve.”

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has had forty-three employees who have died in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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