Man incarcerated at SCI Smithfield dies of COVID-19

Cells are shown in a newly cleared wing at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

Cells are shown in a newly cleared wing at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

Department of Corrections and SCI Smithfield officials reported the first death of a prisoner with COVID-19.

They say an unnamed 77-year-old prisoner with underlying medical conditions had been transferred to a hospital in Clearfield County.

He had been at SCI Smithfield since Oct. 13, 2015, serving a sentence of 10 to 20 years for aggravated indecent assault of a child.

“We continue our battle against this dangerous, invisible enemy,” said Corrections Secretary John Wetzel.

“With fall upon us, we are experiencing a resurgence. That is why it is vital to continue our aggressive mitigation efforts. We cannot let our guard down.”

SCI Smithfield reports 25 active cases among incarcerated people and 39 active cases among staff. Prisoners who have tested positive are in isolation, either in the prison’s infirmary or local hospitals.

Employees who have tested positive must isolate at their homes and cannot return to work until they provide a doctor’s note clearing them to return.

Wetzel says he has directed his staff to “act aggressively and quickly when inmates report influenza-like illnesses, and that includes isolating and quarantining inmates, locking down units or entire prisons as needed, conducting regular cleanings and even 72-hour deep cleanings in order to protect staff and inmates.”

“We are experiencing the same thing that our counties are experiencing, and we are following very strict procedures to mitigate the virus’ impact on our state prisons,” Wetzel said.

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