Connecticut inmate dies of COVID-19; fourth since beginning of the year

Zach Murdock, Hartford Courant

A Connecticut inmate who died Monday of COVID-19 complications is the third incarcerated person to lose their life to the virus in just the past week.

The 53-year-old man is the fourth offender to die since Jan. 1 and the 17th since the pandemic began last spring.

The man spent more than six weeks in a hospital for treatment from his transfer the day after Thanksgiving from the Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers until his death Monday evening, the Department of Correction announced. DOC officials did not identify the man publicly, citing medical privacy rules.

Ten inmates in state prisons have now died over the past eight weeks as a second wave of COVID-19 has crashed across the state, driving up cases and deaths across the general population and within the walls of DOC facilities. More inmates have now died during those eight weeks than died during the first eight months of the pandemic.

Another 16 inmates are currently hospitalized, as of Friday, the most recently available data in the DOC online COVID tracking dashboard.

The dashboard also reported 129 offenders are currently positive for the virus and experiencing symptoms in addition to 310 asymtomatic inmates. Another 281 staff members are listed as “recovering” from the virus, which represents an increase of 36 positive staff cases since the end of last week.

The ACLU of Connecticut, activists and families of incarcerated people have called on Gov. Ned Lamont and state prison officials to do more to protect offenders in their inherently congregate living situation inside correctional facilities. So far officials have resisted calls to release large numbers of certain offenders to reduce the risk of spread inside state prisons.

Connecticut’s vaccine group has recommended incarcerated people be included among the subgroups next in line to receive their doses in Phase 1B, which will begin next week. On Tuesday afternoon, a subcommittee of the vaccine group recommended expanding Phase 1B to also include residents who are 65 and older and those with at least one health condition after the state learned it will receive thousands of additional doses and federal officials made similar recommendations earlier in the day.

Zach Murdock can be reached at zmurdock@courant.com.