Health

Oregon Department of Corrections reports second inmate death from COVID-19

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
Portland, Ore. Aug. 14, 2020 8:03 p.m.

The Oregon Department of Corrections Friday confirmed that a second inmate has died from the coronavirus while in the agency’s custody.

Snake River Correctional Institution, a prison in Ontario, reported Wednesday to Oregon DOC that an unnamed man between the ages of 60 and 70 years old had died in the facility’s infirmary.

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Oregon DOC said it postponed issuing a press release until receiving COVID-19 test results for the inmate. Those results came back positive Friday.

Like any in-custody death, the Oregon State Police have been notified, DOC said, and the Medical Examiner will determine the man’s cause of death.

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Oregon DOC reported the first in-custody coronavirus-related death back in May at the Oregon State Penitentiary.

Jails and prisons nationwide have housed some of the largest outbreaks due to the inherent lack of physical distancing, with numerous inmates occupying one cell and communal areas such as bathrooms and dining halls.

There have been multiple legal complaints filed against Oregon DOC and the state calling out unsafe conditions in facilities amid the pandemic.

Snake River Correctional Institution was in “Tier 4,” according to the DOC’s most recently available coronavirus data from Wednesday, meaning that the entire institution is being quarantined for two weeks and inmates are only being transferred for “life-saving measures.”

DOC said because of state law it could not disclose why the man was not transferred from SRCI to a hospital or another medical facility.

SRCI has reported the most coronavirus cases in staff members and inmates in the state. As of Wednesday, according to DOC, 57 staff members and 158 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19.

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