Indiana reports 1st death of prison guard with coronavirus

Indiana’s prison system has reported the first death of a guard after contracting the coronavirus.

The 67-year-old guard worked at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility near the town of Carlisle in southwestern Indiana’s Sullivan County, according to the state Department of Correction. Gary Weinke died Saturday from COVID-19 complications and had last worked at the prison on March 29, the agency said.

Four Indiana prison inmates have died with confirmed or suspected coronavirus infections, according to prison system online statistics. Three of those deaths have been at the Plainfield Correctional Facility near Indianapolis and one at the Westville Correctional Facility in northwestern Indiana.

One staff member at the Indiana Women’s Prison in Indianapolis has died, but the agency hasn’t released information about that employee.

The Westville prison has nearly 170 confirmed COVID-19 infections among inmates and staffers, while the Plainfield prison has almost 100. That makes up a majority of the 426 reported cases as of Sunday among the 23 prison system locations included in the agency’s report.

Prisons are regarded as a high risk for spreading the coronavirus because inmates are held in close quarters.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and other inmate advocates have pushed for the early release of some prisoners to lower prison populations. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has repeatedly said he doesn’t support such actions.

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