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Inmate dies after testing positive for COVID-19; coronavirus suspected in another Oklahoma prisoner's death

Inmate dies after testing positive for COVID-19; coronavirus suspected in another Oklahoma prisoner's death

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Another state prison inmate has died after testing positive for COVID-19, Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Jason Nelson said Thursday.

The inmate was assigned to Joseph Harp Correctional Center, a medium-security prison for men in Lexington, where 91 other offenders currently are positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The inmate died Wednesday after being admitted to an Oklahoma City-area hospital more than a week ago with COVID-19 symptoms, according to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

The man had signed a do-not-resuscitate directive and asked that the hospital withdraw treatment, according to the agency.

He was serving hundreds of years for multiple violent crimes, according to the agency.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections said Monday that a female inmate died Saturday at a hospital where she was admitted for symptoms of COVID-19.

She was housed at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft, a minimum-security women’s prison with open dormitory-style housing. More than half of the offenders at the facility — 708 — currently have COVID-19, according to the DOC.

The medical examiner will determine the cause of her death.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections website, 1,623 offenders statewide have tested positive. About 200 prison staff members also have tested positive.

Meanwhile, state House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, sent a letter Thursday on behalf of the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus urging Gov. Kevin Stitt to implement a regular testing program for DOC employees.

The letter cites recent outbreaks in three state prisons and highlights how infections in those facilities affect surrounding communities.

The state is not testing staff due to a legal interpretation that, based on the actions of other states, Democrats think is incorrect, Virgin said in a news release.

“We have learned that your administration has taken a stance that DOC cannot require employees to be tested,” she said in the letter to Stitt. “This position is without legal basis. Other states have already implemented staff testing programs to protect their communities. Oklahoma must follow suit.”


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Barbara Hoberock

405-528-2465

barbara.hoberock@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @bhoberock

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