5 new Utah inmate deaths related to COVID-19 reported, but total increases by 1

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Utah State Prison in Draper

Utah State Prison in Draper

DRAPER, Utah (ABC4) – The Utah Department of Corrections (UDC) has announced five additional COVID-19 related inmate deaths.

As of March 18, there are 16 total COVID-19 related inmate deaths, technically an increase of only one since the last update on January 7, not five.

Of the previously reported 15 deaths over two months ago, it has since been determined by the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner that two of the deaths were not COVID-19 related. Furthermore, two other cases are still awaiting the OME’s final report.

The total of 16 COVID-19 related inmate deaths within custody comes as a result of those previously mentioned four cases no longer being considered.

In a phone call with ABC4, Kaitlin Felsted with the Utah Department of Corrections says should the two outstanding OME reports come back positive, the number of deaths will increase to 18. If only one comes back positive, then 17, and if both come back negative then the total will remain at 16.

Officials say all of the 16 inmate deaths occurred at the Utah State Prison in Draper or at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison.

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Four of the inmates who died were between the ages of 65 and 84 and one inmate was between the ages of 45 and 64. All of the inmates who died were men, according to the UDC.

“We express our deepest condolences to the families and friends who have lost an incarcerated
loved one from this pandemic,” said Brian Nielson, executive director for the Utah Department
of Corrections.

The UDC says approximately 184 inmates between the Utah State Prison and Central Utah Correctional Facility have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Incarcerated individuals’ health remains our top priority as we continue to navigate through
these difficult times,” Nielson said. “We are heartened to see a light on the horizon as more and
more individuals receive the COVID-19 vaccination within our facilities and within the
community.”

On Thursday, Utah surpassed over 380,000 COVID-19 cases in the state since the beginning of the pandemic.

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