Pa. Department of Corrections reports first death of inmate with COVID-19


The inmate was serving a sentence of 1½ to 5 years for receiving stolen property


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WYTV) – In Pennsylvania, Department of Corrections (DOC) and SCI Pine Grove officials report the first death of an inmate with COVID-19 Saturday.

The 38-year-old inmate, whose name will not be provided, died at a local hospital. He was serving a sentence of 1½ to 5 years for receiving stolen property. He had been at SCI Pine Grove since Jan. 8, 2019.

“We continue our battle against this dangerous invisible enemy,” said Corrections Secretary John Wetzel. “With fall upon us, we are experiencing a resurgence. That is why it is vital to continue our aggressive mitigation efforts. We cannot let our guard down.”

According to a recent study by the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ), Pennsylvania is one of only six states where the COVID death rate in prison is lower than the state’s community COVID death rate:

SCI Pine Grove reports 10 active inmate cases and 8 active staff cases. Inmates who have tested positive are in isolation at the prison or local hospitals, depending on the level of medical care required. Employees who have tested positive must isolate at their homes and cannot return to work until they provide a doctor’s note clearing them to return.

“We are experiencing the same thing that our counties are experiencing, and we are following very strict procedures to mitigate the virus’ impact on our state prisons,” Wetzel said. “I’ve directed our staff to act aggressively and quickly when inmates report influenza-like illnesses, and that includes isolating and quarantining inmates, locking down units or entire prisons as needed, conducting regular cleanings and even 72-hour deep cleanings in order to protect staff and inmates.”

Visit the DOC’s website to stay up to date with DOC COVID-19 information and statistics.

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