A ninth inmate died due to complications related to COVID-19, state Department of Correction officials said Friday.
The 44-year-old inmate had several comorbidities making him at greater risk for complications from the disease, DOC officials said. He was serving a 27-year sentence for four first-degree sexual assault convictions and had entered the prison system in 2002. He wasn’t eligible for parole until September 2025, making him ineligible for early release during the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.
The death comes on the heels of calls by advocates to have the state make vaccinating inmates a top priority on par with residents of nursing homes and people who live in other congregate settings early next year.
The DOC had touted a low percentage of inmates testing positive for COVID-19 during a mass round of testing that ended on Nov. 13. But less than a week after announcing that there were only 44 asymptomatic inmates, COVID-19 cases exploded in the prisons with nearly 300 inmates testing positive for the virus.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut was still waiting Friday for a report from a monitoring panel to determine whether the DOC is following an agreement with state officials to provide better healthcare, cleaning and social distancing during the pandemic.
The report is several months late. The agreement is the result of a lawsuit filed by the CT ACLU against former DOC Commissioner Rollin Cook and Gov. Ned Lamont. The lawsuit contended that the DOC wasn’t doing enough to protect inmates as COVID-19 was spreading through the prisons.
The inmate who died Friday had been taken to the medical isolation unit at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution and then transferred to an area hospital Friday where he died, DOC officials said.
More than 1,700 inmates have contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic.
“This is a solemn reminder that we must continue to do everything under our power to limit the spread of this persistent virus, we can not ease up on our efforts,” DOC Commissioner Designee Angel Quiros said of Friday’s death. “My condolences go out to his family.”