RICHMOND — Four inmates have died in Virginia prisons from COVID-19. All had prior existing health problems.
The department, which has released the identities of deceased inmates in the past, is not doing so for coronavirus-related deaths, citing restrictions in the Health Information Privacy Act, which bar the release of inmate medical information.
However, the officials are releasing some of the biographical backgrounds of those dying from the virus, the most recent on Thursday at the VCU Medical Center. He was a 66-year-old male held at the Buckingham Correctional Center and was serving multiple life sentences for murder, aggravated kidnapping, robbery and sexual intercourse without consent.
The department said that in addition to COVID-19, the deceased inmate had hypertension and thyroid problems. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 on May 2 and was admitted to VCU Medical Center the following day.
As of Thursday, 12 other Buckingham inmates — three of them hospitalized — also have tested positive for COVID-19.
Three hundred COVID-19 swabs were taken at Buckingham and sent to a commercial laboratory for testing on April 27. However, the department said the lab apparently mistakenly sent them to another correctional center, which did not discover them until Tuesday.
The 300 samples were collected again this past week, the department said.
The first inmate to die was a 49-year-old woman at the Virginia Correctional Center for Women on April 14 who was admitted to VCU Medical Center on April 4 and tested positive for the novel coronavirus. She had other health conditions, including asthma and Hepatitis-C, the department said.
That victim was serving a nine-year sentence for manufacturing methamphetamine, delivery of drugs to prison and larceny. She had an expected release date in mid-2023.
On April 29, a 60-year-old inmate at Sussex II State Prison in Waverly, who also suffered from hypertension and deep vein thrombosis, died at Southside Regional Medical Center, where he was admitted on April 22. The Department of Corrections said he had been sentenced to 86 years in prison, the main charge was for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute drugs.
A 48-year-old inmate at the Deerfield Correctional Center, in Capron, died on April 26 at VCU Medical Center. He was transferred there from the Southside Regional Medical Center, where he was admitted on April 20.
His primary offense was drug possession with the intent to distribute and he was serving a 27-year sentence with an expected release date in 2031.
As of Thursday, the Department of Corrections reported that 631 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, with 12 hospitalized. In addition, 71 DOC staff members or contractors have tested positive.