Unvaxxed Inmate Dies Of COVID-19 Amid Concerns Of Low Vaccination Rate In Prisons

By on
Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility
This is a representational image showing an employee exiting the complex of Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Aug. 7, 2015.

An inmate at Riverview Correctional Facility in Ogdensburg, New York, reportedly died of COVID-19.

Authorities said the unvaccinated 60-year-old was admitted to a hospital, where he died on Jan. 21. The state department of corrections and community supervision (DOCCS) said the cause of death was determined by a county medical examiner, according to WWNYTV.

The death at Riverview was the second the prison has seen since the start of the pandemic, and the 44th in the entire state prison system.

Seventeen DOCCS workers have also died from coronavirus, department records showed.

Since the pandemic began, more than 11,000 staff and nearly 10,000 incarcerated people have tested positive for COVID-19. The death comes as concerns about the low vaccination rates in prisons continue to grow. 

As of this week, 53.2 percent of incarcerated individuals in DOCCS custody have been partially vaccinated, fully vaccinated or fully vaccinated with a booster.

The prison advocacy group Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP) Campaign reacted to the two deaths, urging the state to pass the Elder Parole bill and the Fair and Timely Parole bill.

"People were dying in New York State prisons every three days before the pandemic, so it’s important to recognize that these COVID deaths are happening on top of a crisis that’s been with us for more than a decade," RAPP director Jose Saldana said in a statement, according to NCPR.

On Tuesday, Greene Correctional Facility in Coxsackie reported its first COVID-related death. The death came as the prison recorded the highest number of positive cases in the state incarceration system, according to NNY360.

Greene Correctional had 85 active COVID infections among its incarcerated population as of last week. Over the past two years, Coxsackie Correctional Facility has had four confirmed COVID deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday cases have started to decrease, but remain high in most parts of the United States. The 7-day average of daily new cases was reported to be 596,860, a 19.9 percent decrease from the previous week.

The CDC urged people to get vaccinated as soon as possible and advised those eligible to get a booster shot. 


Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility

Photo: REUTERS/Mark Makela

Join the Discussion