An Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) adult in custody (AIC) died January 2, 2021. He was incarcerated at the Oregon State Penitentiary and passed away at the facility. He tested positive for COVID-19 and was between 50 and 60 years old. As with all in-custody deaths, the Oregon State Police have been notified, and the Medical Examiner will determine cause of death. Department-wide, this is the twenty-third AIC to die who tested positive for COVID-19.
For more information on COVID-19 cases inside Oregon’s prisons, please visit DOC’s COVID-19 website. The agency is responsible for the care and custody of 13,000 adults in custody who are incarcerated in 14 institutions across the state.
Anyone entering DOC property is required to wear a mask or face covering in any indoor work setting or other indoor premises regardless of distance from others unless they are in a private, individual office not shared by anyone else; or they are actively eating or drinking AND at least six (6) feet of distance can be maintained between other people. Masks are mandatory at all times in many work areas.
Institutions continue to clean and disinfect numerous times a day. DOC asks AICs to report symptoms of COVID to medical staff. Posters are in all DOC institutions encouraging individuals to maintain proper hygiene and to uphold appropriate social distancing to the extent possible. Health screening processes are in place before staff are allowed to enter facilities. This screening includes a temperature check and a screening questionnaire. Visiting remains closed until further notice.
DOC has begun administering COVID-19 vaccinations – eventually offering to all DOC staff, contractors, Oregon Corrections Enterprises employees, and adults in custody (AICs). Prioritization of vaccines will be determined by guidance from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and the Governor’s Office.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, DOC issued a press release when an AIC passed away. This notification would include the person’s name, county of conviction, sentence length, and date of death. However, no cause of death would be listed because the Medical Examiner makes that determination. In order to balance the desire for transparency with our legal obligation to protect personal health information, we have changed the AIC death notification process when someone dies who has tested positive for COVID-19. DOC is working with the Oregon Health Authority to publish COVID-19 related data and information on the OHA website.