Rusk TDCJ employee dies of COVID-19 after 42 days in hospital

He is remembered by co-workers as a ‘guiding light.’

Rusk TDCJ employee dies of COVID-19 after 42 days in hospital
Michael Harper died after 7 weeks in a Tyler hospital. (Source: TDCJ FB page)

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reported the loss of an employee who had the COVID-19 virus.

56-year-old Maintenance Supervisor Michael Harper passed away December 1. Harper had over 22 years of service with TDCJ and was assigned to the Skyview/Hodge complex in Rusk.

TDCJ officials say that on October 13, Harper sought treatment for COVID symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19. He was initially hospitalized on October 19 at a Tyler hospital after suffering respiratory complications. On November 3 he was placed on a ventilator and after a more than 6-week fight against the virus Harper died yesterday.

“Michael Harper was always the first to contribute to TDCJ in every way he could, even volunteering for service above and beyond his normal duties,” said TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, and we hope they are blessed with the knowledge that he was a kind and caring man willing to help anyone day or night.”

Another staff member agrees, commending Harper’s dedication.

“He was a committed employee who proudly served Texas and this agency,” said Facilities Division Director Cody Ginsel. “Michael Harper can rest easy knowing that he will always be remembered as a guiding light for all who were fortunate enough to know him.”

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has had 25 employees who have died in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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