California records first inmate death from coronavirus at prison

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Authorities in California have reported the first inmate in the state to have died from complications related to coronavirus.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Sunday an inmate at the California Institution for Men in San Bernardino County died at an outside area hospital from what appeared to be complications related to COVID-19.

"An exact cause of death has not yet been determined," the agency said.

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State officials said the inmate's next of kin have been notified, but no additional information is being provided to protect the individual’s medical privacy.

An inmate at the California Institution for Men in San Bernardino County died from what appears to be complications related to coronavirus, officials announced Sunday.

An inmate at the California Institution for Men in San Bernardino County died from what appears to be complications related to coronavirus, officials announced Sunday. (California Department of Corrections)

The facility in San Bernardino County currently has 59 inmates who have tested positive for coronavirus.

"CDCR takes the health and safety of all those who live and work in our state prisons very seriously and will continue to work diligently to address the COVID-19 pandemic," officials said.

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As the coronavirus pandemic has worsened, concern has shifted to crowded prisons, where inmates not only live in close proximity to one another, but share laundries, baths, and communal eating areas

The United States has 2.3 million inmates in about 5,000 jails and prisons across the country -- believed to be the largest prison population in the world. According to the Bureau of Justice, nearly 200,000 people 55 and older are behind bars.

Officials in California, for instance, have responded by releasing thousands of non-violent inmates to open up space in facilities to prevent the spread of the virus.

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As of Monday, there were 31,531 cases of COVID-19 in California with at least 1,180 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.