Sunday, 29 March 2020

First federal inmate dies of coronavirus

Patrick Jones, an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution Oakdale I, died Saturday.
Patrick Jones, an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution Oakdale I, died Saturday.(Google Maps)

The first federal inmate has died from coronavirus, the Bureau of Prisons said Saturday.

Patrick Jones, a 49-year-old black man, was serving 27 years at the Federal Correctional Institution Oakdale I in Louisiana for possession with intent to distribute 425.1 grams of crack cocaine within 1000 feet of a junior college, according to a statement from the BOP.

Jones reported a “persistent cough” on March 19 and was hospitalized for evaluation and treatment. He tested positive for coronavirus and was put on a ventilator a day later after his condition deteriorated.

On Saturday, Jones died.

The Bureau of Prisons said Jones had "long-term, pre-existing medical conditions,” which is a major risk factor for worsening coronavirus symptoms, but did not specify his ailments.

As of Friday, 14 federal inmates and 13 staff members at 122 facilities around the country have tested positive for coronavirus. Jones is the first death.

Health officials have warned about how easy coronavirus can spread behind bars, where prisoners are living in close quarters and are unable to maintain social distancing in group dining halls and recreation areas.

Michael Carvajal, the director of the Bureau of Prisons, said Thursday that his agency “has taken, and will continue to take, aggressive steps to protect the safety and security of all staff and inmates, as well as visitors and members of the public.”

“The BOP has been working on its coronavirus response plans since January 2020, when we first established a task force,” he said in a statement. “In doing so, the BOP leveraged its well-established experience from actual planning, practice and training. In fact, the BOP has had a Pandemic Influenza plan in place for years; in January, we immediately modified it for COVID-19.”

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