Credit: Christine Stuart photo

A 43-year-old inmate who had been hospitalized since early October died from COVID-19 Friday, according to the state Department of Correction.

The man was the 21st inmate to die from the disease since March of 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic began impacting the state.

The man had come into the DOC system in October 2020 and was serving a two-and-a-half year sentence on sale of a controlled substance and unlawful restraint charges, DOC officials said. The inmate had underlying health issues and had refused to be intubated last week, according to DOC spokeswoman Karen Martucci. His maximum release would have been in February of 2023.

As of Friday, 52 inmates were symptomatic with COVID-19 including 20 who were in the infirmary at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution and three in an area hospital, according to the DOC website.

There were also 141 asymptomatic inmates who had tested positive for COVID-19 throughout the prison system and 40 staff were out with COVID-19 as well.

The number of inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19 has doubled since late August when the delta variant of the disease led to an increase in positive cases and quadrupled since late July when cases throughout the state were relatively low.

At the same time, vaccinations against the disease have been slow with only 107 inmates agreeing to be vaccinated since Aug. 27, DOC figures showed. As of Friday, there has been 4,861 inmates vaccinated, DOC officials said.

Citing medical privacy laws, an agency spokesman declined to provide information on whether the inmate who died on Friday had been vaccinated.

“Generally speaking, individuals who are vaccinated are as much as 11 times less likely to die from COVID-19,” the spokesman said.

The number of DOC staff who have been vaccinated increased by 666 since Aug. 27 after Gov. Ned Lamont required all state employees to be vaccinated or face weekly testing at their own expense. As of Friday, 3,339 DOC staff had been vaccinated, the DOC said.

Roughly a week before hundreds of DOC employees were not in compliance with the vaccination or testing mandate, state officials said.

As of Monday 93% of DOC employees are compliant with the weekly testing mandate, DOC officials said. The remaining 7% who are not in compliance represent about 400 employees, according to figures provided by state Comptroller Kevin Lembo’s OpenPayroll website.