Second inmate at Albemarle Correctional dies from COVID complications

Published 2:43 pm Friday, July 24, 2020

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A second inmate housed at Albemarle Correctional Institution who had COVID-19 died at the hospital Thursday as a result of complications from the virus, according to a press release from John Bull, spokesman for the state’s Department of Public Safety.

“His death is tragic, and we are continuing to work hard to handle the impact of COVID-19 in our prisons,” said Todd Ishee, commissioner of prisons. “The health and safety of the staff and the offenders in our custody remains our top priority.”

The offender tested positive on June 22, according to the press release, and was hospitalized on July 1, where his conditions worsened.

The inmate was a male in his early 60s who had underlying health conditions. Given his family’s right to privacy and the confidentiality of prison offender records, Bull said DPS will not identity his name or any other information.

His death follows the July 14 death of another inmate, who was in his late 50s.

State prison officials initiated a plan in mid-June to test all of the 31,000 inmates in state prisons for the coronavirus. This testing of the population is estimated to require at least 60 days to complete, at a projected cost of more than $3.3 million.

The mass testing began June 18 with prisoners inside Albemarle Correctional. As of Friday, ACI has had 103 inmates and at least 29 prison employees test positive for the virus. A total of 774 inmates at the prison have been tested.

Inmates who test positive and exhibit symptoms are taken to single cells for restrictive housing, though they have all the privileges given to inmates in the general population, Bull said. Inmates who test positive but are asymptomatic are placed in a dorm with other offenders who have also tested positive and are asymptomatic.

The COVID-19 outbreak at Albemarle is the third largest in the state prison system, behind only Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro, with 466 cases, and the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh, with 231 cases.

So far more than 20,000 state prison inmates have been tested for COVID-19 and 1,132 of them have tested positive. There are now seven deaths.

Prison employees are receiving hazard pay for working during the pandemic while health care workers are getting a 20 percent pay increase, and other employees are getting a 10 percent increase, according to information from the Department of Public Safety’s website.

Stanly has more than 768 confirmed cases along with nine deaths. Besides Albemarle Correctional, there have been eight other outbreaks in the county in congregate living facilities, including the Stanly County Detention Center, where four staff members have tested positive.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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