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Second Inmate Dies Of COVID-19 At Louisiana Federal Prison


A second person held at the federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana has died of COVID-19.

The Bureau of Prisons confirmed the death. New Orleans Public Radio learned of the death from staff at the facility. It’s the second death of an inmate from COVID-19 across all federal prisons, and the second death at Federal Correctional Institute Oakdale, which is seeing rampant spread of the virus.

The bureau identified the inmate as 43-year-old Nicholas Rodriquez. It said he fell ill on March 25 and had a high temperature and a rapid heartbeat. He was transported to a local hospital that day and tested positive for COVID-19. Rodriquez was placed on a ventilator on March 27, after his condition deteriorated. He died on April 1.

The bureau said Rodriquez had long-term, pre-existing medical conditions which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists as risk factors for developing more severe COVID-19 disease. Rodriguez was serving a 188-month sentence on drug charges and had been at the Oakdale facility for about a year.

Ronald Morris, a maintenance foreman at the prison and president of the prison’s union local, said there have been nine inmates tested positive for coronavirus, 32 more with symptoms, and 64 more who’ve been exposed. Of those, 15 inmates were in local hospitals. Meanwhile, eight staff have tested positive, 16 more have symptoms and one was in an intensive care unit at a hospital.

The Bureau of Prisons told The Lens that it has stopped testing for the virus at the facility because the outbreak is so widespread. Instead, anyone with symptoms is assumed to have COVID-19.

A spokesperson for the bureau told the news outlet that the move is intended “to conserve valuable testing resources,” and added that the bureau had no plans to release nationwide testing figures. The last update was Monday, and reported 28 inmates and 24 staff had tested positive across U.S. federal prisons.

On Wednesday, the Bureau of Prisons began a 14-day quarantine for inmates across all its prisons to stem the spread of COVID-19.

This story has been updated throughout.

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Rosemary Westwood is the public and reproductive health reporter for WWNO/WRKF. She was previously a freelance writer specializing in gender and reproductive rights, a radio producer, columnist, magazine writer and podcast host.

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