5 Mass. Prisoners Die Due To COVID-19

A fifth Massachusetts prisoner has died because of COVID-19.

A man in his 70s held at MCI-Shirley died at an area hospital where he was being treated for the disease, according to the state Department of Correction. His death marks the first for the medium-security facility in the pandemic.

The department did not identify the prisoner.

As of Thursday, DOC said 22 prisoners at Shirley have tested positive, as well as nine DOC and vendor staff. That's up from 14 prisoners and four staff within a single day.

Four prisoner deaths were reported earlier at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater. The facility now holds 37 prisoners who have tested positive for the virus.

In all DOC facilities, there are 98 prisoners — and 63 DOC and vendor staffers — who have tested positive.

According to a report issued by the state Supreme Judicial Court this week, there are about 8,000 people incarcerated in the state prison system, and the DOC said it administered 183 coronavirus tests to prisoners last week.

There were fewer cases reported in state jails. According to the SJC report, there are 54 prisoners and 62 workers in state jails who have tested positive. The highest number of cases — 35 — were reported in Essex County.

There are about 6,700 people incarcerated in county jails. Sheriffs reported administering 127 coronavirus tests to prisoners and 201 tests to staff last week.

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Deborah Becker Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.



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