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“We are so deeply saddened by the loss of Phillip Perry, principal of G.W. Carver Middle School,” the Waco Independent School District announced on Facebook. “Mr. Perry has been a role model to countless students in our district and in his neighborhood.”
Perry, 49, also umpired local youth baseball games and refereed basketball games.
Before he became an educator, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps and then worked for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, according to KWTX.
He was a Waco native who graduated from Waco High School in 1989, the station reported. While there, he played on the basketball team.
He had tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver said Perry’s death was the first COVID-19 death in McLennan County. He said the principal had unspecified underlying health conditions.
“This is a tragic development, but not an unforeseen one,” Deaver said in a statement. “I call for all of our community to keep the victim’s family in their prayers and respect their privacy. Also, please continue doing everything possible to prevent further spread of COVID-19.”
Texas had confirmed more than 3,000 coronavirus cases as of Tuesday afternoon and at least 41 deaths.
With the threat of the deadly virus’s spread looming, Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday issued an executive order expanding a previous directive that closed school and urged residents to avoid eating or drinking at bars and restaurants.
“Social distancing is our best tool in the fight against COVID-19, and the actions we have taken thus far have proven to be effective in limiting the spread of this virus,” Abbott said. “I urge my fellow Texans to heed these heightened social distancing directives to protect their health and the health of those around them.”