A 67-year-old incarcerated man died from COVID-19 on Sunday, the tenth to die since the onset of the pandemic.
Due to medical privacy laws, his name was withheld. Officials transferred him from the department’s Medical Isolation Unit at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution to an outside hospital on Nov. 26. He died on Dec. 6.
He had been incarcerated at Cheshire Correctional Institution before being sent to the agency’s specialized unit at MacDougall-Walker.
The death comes as the prison system, state and nation reel from a spike in COVID-19 cases. Currently 101 inmates have the virus and are showing symptoms. More than 160 staff are recovering. More than 210 inmates are asymptomatic, with clusters of cases at Osborn, York and Cheshire Correctional Institutions.
The DOC stated it would increase its mass testing efforts; staff will be tested weekly, and inmates will be tested every other week.
At the governor’s coronavirus briefing on Monday, Josh Geballe, the state’s chief operating officer, fielded a question from a reporter on why the incarcerated population would be among the groups to receive the COVID-19 vaccination beginning in January, before “law-abiding citizens.”
Geballe said the phase in which the incarcerated population will begin getting the vaccine includes more than 1 million people, and further planning is needed to determine when those in that phase will get the injections.
“When you’re talking about our incarcerated population, these are people who are the responsibility of the state, and they’re also living in congregate settings,” Geballe said, explaining that the conditions in which inmates live make it difficult to practice social distancing, leading to high risks of rapid transmissions of the virus. “Our goal is to prevent as much infection and illness and death as we possibly can.”