Tumwater, WA – Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) Correctional Officer Berisford Anthony Morse died on Sunday due to complications of COVID-19.
The 65-year-old correctional officer finished his last shift on the morning of April 24, the DOC said in a press release on Monday.
Later that evening, he contacted his shift commander and reported that he was experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
Correctional Officer Morse then went to his doctor, who tested him for the novel coronavirus.
The test came back positive on April 27.
“It is a tragedy to lose a member of our public safety community and correctional family,” DOC Secretary Stephen Sinclair said in the press release. “It is with deep sadness that we announce the loss of Correctional Officer Berisford Morse due to COVID-19. Our hearts go out to Officer Morse’s grieving family and the sacrifice they have made.”
Correctional Officer Morse served the DOC for over 16 years, and was assigned to the Monroe Correctional Complex Minimum Security Unit at the time of his death.
Prison officials confirmed that he had contact with an inmate who was positive for COVID-19 on April 12, according to the DOC.
“Through his work in corrections, he put his life on the line to protect the public and keep our communities safe,” Teamsters 117 President and Executive Director Michelle Woodrow told KUOW. “No one deserves to die on the job, but when a workplace death is tied to public service, it is especially painful and worthy of recognition.”
Correctional Officer Morse was a hero and “we will never forget his service and sacrifice,” Woodrow added.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Washington State Department of Corrections Correctional Officer Berisford Anthony Morse, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.