Alabama prison reports fourth inmate coronavirus death
ELMORE, Ala. (AP) — A fourth inmate in Alabama had died after testing positive for COVID-19 as the number of virus cases in the state systems continues to rise.
Robert Stewart, 80, died at a hospital Sunday, the Alabama Department of Corrections said in a statement. Stewart began exhibiting symptoms of the virus June 8 and got treatment at the Staton Correctional Facility infirmary before being transferred to a local hospital where he died.
An autopsy was expected to determine Stewart’s official cause of death. The statement said he tested positive June 10.
Officials decided last Thursday to test all inmates in the infirmary for the coronavirus, and 13 tested positive, the Corrections Department said. They have been isolated, the statement said.
The prison system says that since the pandemic began, a total of 41 inmates and 122 staff members and contract workers have tested positive.
Clarence Shepherd, 80, died Friday after showing symptoms of the virus, corrections officials said. He had been housed at the St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville.
Inmate advocates and health experts have expressed concerns that the state’s overcrowded prisons would become a breeding ground for a deadly outbreak and urged the state to make additional changes.
The prison system has said it is taking precautions such as distributing masks to inmates and quarantining infirmaries and other areas where there have been positive cases.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and be life-threatening.