An inmate who had recently been cleared for a furlough died Thursday from complications of COVID-19, according to the state Department of Correction.
The 47-year-old man’s death is the 11th among inmates since the coronavirus pandemic began impacting the state in March.
The man was serving a two-and-a-half year sentence for a drug and assault on emergency, public transit or healthcare personnel when he was taken from the MacDougall-Walker Medical to Isolation Unit to an outside hospital on Nov. 28, DOC officials said.
He remained at the hospital until his death Thursday. He had entered prison system in March 2019 and had been recently approved for a furlough, officials said.
“It’s never easy to lose a loved one, but it is even harder when the loss comes around the holidays,” said DOC Commissioner Designee Angel Quiros. “My sincere condolences go out to his family. I am committed to continuing the fight against the spread of this virus in any way I can.”
The man is the third inmate to die from COVID-19 in December.
The DOC vowed to step up COVID-19 mass testing efforts earlier this month after two inmates died within days of each other.
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 disease.
As of Friday there were 248 symptomatic inmates with 16 in outside hospitals, according to the DOC website. There are another 266 asymptomatic inmates currently behind bars. In total, 2,553 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus pandemic began impacting the state in March.
A recent report filed by an agreement monitoring panel charged by the court with reviewing how the DOC was handling the pandemic concluded that the agency needed to provide more spacing between bunks for inmates in dormitory settings to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
The agreement is the result of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut 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.
Advocates including the CT ACLU are calling on state officials to state make vaccinating inmates against COVID-19 a top priority on par with residents of nursing homes and other congregate settings early next year.