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Two E. Oregon state prison inmates with COVID-19 die on same day


PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — Two inmates from the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution who tested positive for COVID-19 died within hours of each other, prison officials said Thursday.

The deaths on Wednesday bring the total of COVID-19 fatalities in Oregon’s prisons to five, according to the Oregon Department of Corrections.

The Oregon Justice Resource Center said, “Oregon is currently failing its incarcerated residents and their loved ones.”

“When all of this is over, Oregonians should be able to look back with confidence that everything possible was done to save lives and protect the health for everyone in our state. We will not be able to do that regarding our prisons,” said the group, which promotes civil rights and improves legal representation for often-underserved communities.

Gov. Kate Brown has asked the Oregon Department of Corrections to provide her with a list of adults in custody who are medically vulnerable to COVID-19 or within two months of release from state custody.

Brown said she would commute the remainder of the sentences of those prisoners as long as they meet other criteria such as not serving a sentence for a crime committed against another person, have a record of good conduct for the last 12 months and have a housing plan prior to early release.

The first inmate to die on Wednesday was a man between 65 and 75. The second to die that day was between 50 and 60.

The only coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday reported by Umatilla County, where the prison is located, were of a 73-year-old man and a 54-year-old man.

The older man died at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, Washington. The younger man died at St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton, the county said.

News release from the Oregon Department of Corrections:


An Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) adult in custody (AIC) died the evening of August 26, 2020. He was incarcerated at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution and passed away at a local hospital. He tested positive for COVID-19. He was between 50 and 60 years old. As with all in-custody deaths, the Oregon State Police have been notified and the Medical Examiner will determine cause of death. This is the fifth AIC to die who tested positive for COVID-19.

For more information on COVID-19 cases inside Oregon’s prisons, please visit DOC’s COVID-19 website. The agency is responsible for the care and custody of 14,000 adults in custody who are incarcerated in 14 institutions across the state.

Institutions continue to clean and disinfect numerous times a day. Posters are in all DOC institutions encouraging individuals to maintain proper hygiene and to uphold appropriate social distancing to the extent possible. Health screening processes are in place before staff are allowed to enter facilities. Visiting remains closed until further notice.

DOC requires employees and AICs to wear masks if they cannot maintain six feet of social distancing. Wearing masks is mandatory at all times in health services areas, some work areas, and in food services areas. Cloth masks have been provided to AICs and staff. If an AIC becomes ill and exhibits flu like symptoms, then CDC and OHA guidance for supportive care are followed.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, DOC issued a press release when an AIC passed away. This notification would include the person’s name, county of conviction, sentence length, and date of death. However, no cause of death would be listed because the Medical Examiner makes that determination. In order to balance the desire for transparency with our legal obligation to protect personal health information, we have changed the AIC death notification process when someone dies who has tested positive for COVID-19. DOC is working with the Oregon Health Authority to publish COVID-19 related data and information on the OHA website.

Article Topic Follows: Crime And Courts

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