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Mat-Su

Second Alaska inmate dies with COVID-19 as cases surge in state’s largest prison

  • Author: Tess Williams
  • Updated: December 1, 2020
  • Published December 1, 2020
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A Goose Creek Correctional Center inmate with COVID-19 died Monday as cases continue to surge at the facility, the Alaska Department of Corrections said. He was the second Alaska inmate to die after being infected with the coronavirus.

The 77-year-old, who had underlying health problems, was taken to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center on Nov. 22, the department said in a statement Tuesday.

The man had been incarcerated since 2014 and was serving a 21-year sentence for sexual abuse of a minor, the statement said. The department said it will not release his name in order to protect private health information.

A 69-year-old inmate died after contracting COVID-19 at Goose Creek Correctional Center just over a week ago.

COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported in correctional facilities across the country. Cases at Goose Creek Correctional Center, Alaska’s largest prison, have more than doubled during the past week.

The corrections department announced Tuesday that 480 inmates at the facility have active cases of COVID-19 and another 193 were considered recovered. As of Tuesday, 120 more inmates were awaiting test results. (On Nov. 25, the department reported 299 COVID-19 cases at the facility.)

The virus was first reported in Goose Creek Correctional Center on Nov. 2 and has since spread rapidly throughout the facility.

The corrections department said Tuesday’s increase in cases comes after 1,300 inmates were tested in a facility-wide effort to “identify and isolate any outlying positive cases that were not previously known.”

The department is testing all inmates housed in impacted portions of the prison every three days and said that housing is determined by testing results and clinical status.

“To the extent possible, inmates who refuse testing are housed together, as are positive results and negative results,” the corrections department said in a statement. “This is further broken down by symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.”

Visitation to correctional facilities was halted in March, when the pandemic first reached Alaska. The department said correctional staff are mandated to wear surgical masks and are screened before each shift. Quarantined offenders were also provided surgical masks and the department said medical staff are monitoring for changes in symptoms.

As of Monday, 771 inmates within the entire state’s correctional system had tested positive for COVID-19 and 13 had been hospitalized, according to the corrections department’s COVID-19 tracker. Another 829 test results were pending Monday.

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