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Second inmate with coronavirus dies in Utah prison

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) A 70-year-old man on Wednesday became the second person to die at the Utah State Prison — photographed in 2013 — in Draper after contracting the coronavirus.

A 70-year-old man on Wednesday became the second person to die at the Utah State Prison in Draper after contracting the coronavirus.

The Utah Department of Corrections said in a news release Thursday that he was being housed and treated at the Oquirrh 5 facility — where the most medically vulnerable inmates live — when he tested positive for COVID-19 last Wednesday. The department said he had other medical issues that may have contributed to his death. His name has not been released, but the department said his family has been notified.

An 82-year old inmate died at the Draper prison earlier this month after testing positive for the coronavirus. That man was found dead in his unit, also in the Oquirrh 5 facility. He did not have coronavirus symptoms before he died, according to department officials.

There are currently 2,457 people incarcerated at the Draper prison, according to prison officials, and 926 have tested positive for the coronavirus since an outbreak began in early October. Prison officials say 303 are considered “recovered” from the virus, meaning 623 inmates — about 25% — are currently infected with COVID-19.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah sued prison officials in April alleging the state prison system has not done enough to keep inmates safe from the coronavirus. That lawsuit was dismissed by the Utah Supreme Court in May. The court did not respond to the allegations made by the ACLU, but said the group didn’t have legal standing for the lawsuit since they weren’t representing any inmates.

The ACLU has expressed frustration about the current outbreak, saying prison officials still aren’t doing enough to keep inmates safe and stop the coronavirus from spreading. They say they haven’t ruled out the possibility of more litigation.


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