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Inmate outbreak: 800 infected with COVID-19 in state prison facilities

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At least 800 inmates housed by the Utah Department of Corrections are infected with COVID-19, and two have died in the past week. (Photo: KUTV)

At least 800 inmates housed by the Utah Department of Corrections are infected with COVID-19, and two have died in the past week.

A 68-year-old unidentified inmate died on Wednesday after being hospitalized since Nov. 13, and a 70-year-old unidentified inmate died Thursday morning after being hospitalized since Nov. 12.

Both inmates tested positive Nov. 9 and had other medical conditions that could have contributed to their death, according to the department.

The total number of inmates who've died from the virus thus far is seven. That total includes an individual who died on Nov. 1 at age 61. Utah DOC states "it was later determined by the medical examiner that the individual was COVID-19 positive at the time of death," though the department states they tested negative "hours before being found deceased."

Utah DOC reports 364 individuals have recovered from COVID-19.

The 800 cases of COVID-19 among inmates are spread across the Draper prison complex, the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison, and inmates in county jails. In addition to the 800 active cases among inmates, 37 staff members are infected as of Monday.

The state prison in Draper and the Central Utah Correctional Facility are on "modified lockdown" as of Friday, so the time inmates spend outside their cells may be "greatly limited."

The department works to separate negative individuals from those who've tested positive, but said "our staff have to also consider other criteria for movement of an incarcerated individual including documented safety concerns, gang affiliations, ADA accommodations and other medical conditions unrelated to COVID-19."

Prison inmates have access to medical and mental health care on site, Utah DOC states. Those who need care beyond what can be provided on site are transferred to hospitals.

"Any incarcerated individual that communicates any discomfort will be given access to medications required or any other treatment required," Utah DOC states.

Visitation at the prison sites is suspended until Dec. 1.

Family members may not be notified of an inmate's health condition if the inmate has not authorized prison staff to do so. Utah DOC states it's encouraged all inmates to fill out to form granting that authorization "and will continue to promote that information."

"We truly appreciate the continued patience of family members while we work through this situation," the department stated.

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