2 inmates from same Oregon prison die on same day

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — Two inmates from the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution died of COVID-19 within hours of each other, prison officials said Thursday.

The deaths on Wednesday bring the total of COVID-19 fatalities in Oregon’s prisons to five, according to the Oregon Department of Corrections.

The Oregon Justice Resource Center said “Oregon is currently failing its incarcerated residents and their loved ones.”

“When all of this is over, Oregonians should be able to look back with confidence that everything possible was done to save lives and protect the health for everyone in our state. We will not be able to do that regarding our prisons,” said the group, which promotes civil rights and improves legal representation for often underserved communities.

Gov. Kate Brown has asked the Oregon Department of Corrections to provide her with a list of adults in custody who are medically vulnerable to COVID-19 or within two months of release from state custody.

Brown said she would commute the remainder of the sentences of those prisoners as long as they meet other criteria such as not serving a sentence for a crime committed against another person, have a record of good conduct for the last 12 months and have a housing plan prior to early release.

The first inmate to die on Wednesday was a man between 65 and 75. The second to die that day was between 50 and 60.

The only coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday reported by Umatilla County, where the prison is located, were of a 73-year-old man and a 54-year-old man.

The older man died at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, Washington. The younger man died at St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton, the county said.

The prison is in Pendleton, Oregon, about 210 miles (338 kilometers) from Portland.