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Two More Mass. Prisoners Die Of COVID, DOC Reports

MCI-Norfolk. (Michael Norton/SHNS)
MCI-Norfolk. (Michael Norton/SHNS)

Two Massachusetts men, incarcerated at different state prisons, have died of COVID-19 in the past week. Six prisoners have died of the disease in the past three weeks.

The state Department of Correction said a man in his 60s who was being held at Old Colony Correctional Center was recently taken to the hospital for a medical emergency, where he later died. The DOC said the man had no known history of COVID, but tested positive for the disease at the hospital.

Another man in his 70s, who was being held at MCI-Norfolk, also died of the coronavirus this week. He had been hospitalized for about two weeks.

Fourteen state prisoners were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Thursday night, according to the DOC.

The DOC is reporting 19 COVID-related deaths since the pandemic began, but that does not take into account prisoners who were granted medical parole shortly before their deaths. At least two men have died within a day of being granted medical parole, but they are no longer considered in state custody once parole is granted.

The prisons where men have died include the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater, MCI-Shirley, Old Colony Correctional Center, MCI-Norfolk, MCI-Concord and the North Central Correctional Institution in Gardner (NCCI).

The largest current outbreak of the virus is reported at NCCI, at 142 active cases.

The DOC said it has administered more than 24,000 coronavirus tests since the pandemic began, and that department-wide universal testing is being done for prisoners and direct custody staff at all 16 state prisons.

Prisoners began receiving the COVID vaccine this week. Prisons are in the first phase of the state's vaccine rollout plan, along with other congregate care facilities such as group homes, addiction treatment programs and homeless shelters.

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Deborah Becker Twitter 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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