Dept. of Corrections provides update on COVID-19 response, 11 inmates have died

Coronavirus

DENVER — The Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) is providing an update regarding the Department’s COVID-19 response.

The CDOC has conducted over 95,000 tests during the course of the pandemic. According to a press release by the CDOC, the current inmate population is 14,083, and there are currently 1,558 active inmate cases. The CDOC employs 6,182 full time staff and currently has 207 active staff member positives.

While the vast majority of inmates that have tested positive have been asymptomatic or have had very mild symptoms, there have been 11 inmate deaths and no staff deaths. Given medical privacy laws, the Department is unable to release the inmate names. This week 4 additional inmate deaths were reported:

  • A 62-year-old inmate from the Fremont Correctional Facility passed away on 11/30/2020 at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs after experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. He was transported to the hospital on 11/11/2020.
  • A 64-year old inmate passed away at the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility on 11/30/2020. The inmate was not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms at the time of death. An autopsy will be performed and the coroner will determine a cause of death.
  • A 66-year old inmate from the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility passed away on 11/30/2020 at the Parkview Hospital in Pueblo, CO after experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. The inmate was transported to the hospital on 11/10/2020.
  • A 74-year old inmate from the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility passed away on 12/1/2020 at the Parkview Hospital in Pueblo, CO after experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. The inmate was transported to the hospital on 11/22/2020.

“We remain committed to fighting this virus with every tool we have, and we will continue to work with medical and public health experts to help prevent and mitigate the spread of this virus inside our facilities,” said Colorado Department of Corrections Executive Director Dean Williams. “Across the world, this insidious virus has taken hundreds of thousands of loved ones from their friends and family during the course of this pandemic. Unfortunately, our incarcerated population is no exception, and our thoughts are with all of the friends and family members of the incarcerated men who have died over the last 8 months.”

CDOC say they have been regularly testing staff and inmates during the course of this pandemic, and those testing results are received and reviewed in coordination with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The test results help the Department appropriately quarantine, monitor and cohort inmates inside the facilities.

The CDOC has recently received and deployed BinaxNow rapid tests to all of the facilities which allow for an additional level of staff screening.  The BinaxNow is not a replacement of regular testing, which will continue, but serves as a same day screening tool for staff.

To reduce the risk of introducing COVID-19 into a facility, both staff and inmates are required to wear face coverings at work. CDOC staff and the inmate population are being provided free masks, and to add another layer of protection for staff and inmates, staff are wearing KN95 masks. Additional personal protective equipment is provided to both staff and inmates as needed.

In addition to masks, staff are being temperature checked as they enter the facility and whenever possible, have been assigned to one area of the facility to avoid the potential for cross contamination between units to the greatest extent possible.

CDOC facilities are being regularly audited for COVID mitigation compliance and in between those audits facility leadership are monitoring and enforcing policies for both staff and inmates regarding compliance with the COVID regulations.

The CDOC has brought in additional external emergency response medical professionals at several of our facilities, to assist with assessments, inmate monitoring, and to be available to immediately transport inmates to outside medical treatment if needed. 

Moving forward the Department will be utilizing the CDOC COVID webpage to provide all updates on inmate deaths. That information will be found at: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdoc/covid-19-faq-and-updates .

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