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Officials: 2nd Oregon inmate dies after contracting COVID-19

ONTARIO, Ore.

A person imprisoned at the Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario died Wednesday after contracting COVID-19, officials said.

The death marks the second of an inmate who tested positive for the virus in custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

The person who died, a man between the ages of 60 and 70, was tested Tuesday, officials said. His test results came back Friday confirming that he had contracted the virus. The prison is in Malheur County, where cases have increased so much in the past month that Gov. Kate Brown moved the county from phase two of reopening back to phase one, effective Monday.

The Department of Corrections did not release the man’s name or exact cause of death. The state generally discloses the deceased person’s name, county of conviction and length of sentence, but officials have changed that practice for inmates who contract the virus.

The first inmate to succumb to the disease in the state, a man between 50 and 60 years old, died at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem in May.

“In order to balance the desire for transparency with our legal obligation to protect personal health information, we have changed the (inmate) death notification process when someone dies who has tested positive for COVID,” the agency said in a statement.

As of Thursday, 527 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 447 have recovered, according to a Department of Corrections website. Among prison staff, 144 people have tested positive and 87 have recovered.

More than 14,000 people are currently in custody across 14 institutions statewide, officials said.


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