The first Texas prisoner has died after testing positive for the new coronavirus


Telford prison in New Boston on March 21, 2018 Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

The first Texas prisoner has died after testing positive for the new coronavirus, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice reported Wednesday.

Bartolo Infante, 72, was an inmate at the Telford Unit near Texarkana, TDCJ said in a statement. He tested positive for the virus on Friday after being hospitalized for viral pneumonia. He died Tuesday. TDCJ said Infante was in medical isolation when he died and had pre-existing medical conditions.

Infante's death comes a day after the department reported the first death of an employee. Kelvin Wilcher, 49, was a correctional officer at the Estelle Unit in Huntsville and died Monday. Wilcher went to a Houston hospital on April 1 and had a cardiac event, TDCJ said. He later tested positive for the virus. The prison system said it was under investigation if his death was caused by COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

The Telford Unit was placed on lockdown in the last few days, keeping more than 2,800 men in what is essentially a prison quarantine. Seven inmates and four employees have tested positive at the prison, the agency said. More tests are pending. No other positives were reported at the Estelle Unit as of Tuesday.

Throughout Texas' more than 100 prisons, the agency reported that 28 inmates across the state and 36 TDCJ employees had tested positive for the virus as of Wednesday. Eighty inmate tests were pending on Tuesday. More than 10,000 prisoners — including multiple entire prisons — were under medical restriction, where movement is limited for prisoners who may have been exposed to the virus. The Texas prison system holds about 140,000 men and women.