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Third correctional officer at Baltimore City jail complex dies of COVID-19, union says

A third correctional officer working at the Baltimore City jail complex has died of the coronavirus, a spokesman for the officers’ union said.

The officer, who was not identified, died Friday night. He or she had worked at the minimum-security Baltimore City Correctional Center on Greenmount Avenue.

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“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and coworkers of the officer,” Patrick Moran, president of the local chapter of AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, wrote in a statement. “Prisons have proven to be one of the most dangerous places anyone can work before the pandemic. The coronavirus has only compounded the danger.”

It’s at least the third case of a Maryland correctional officer dying of the coronavirus in a year. The first, Karen Kennedy, 60, had worked two decades in the system before she died in June. Three months later, Barthphine Maduh, 68, a correctional officer for 26 years, died of the virus. Both worked at the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center.

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State corrections secretary Robert Green has said the department received its first round of vaccines Wednesday, and officials are administering the shots to those who will be dispensing vaccines to the rest of the officers. “Vaccinating the vaccinators,” he said.

He said the department received 1,950 doses and will have to administer 75 percent of them to receive more.

Moran said the administration of Gov. Larry Hogan has moved too slowly to inoculate correctional officers working in dangerous conditions.

“It is unacceptable that we are going to again attend another service for a fallen brother,” he said. “Maryland has the means and the resources, but they just don’t have the will to put them to work, so sad.”

The coronavirus has swept through Maryland prisons, killing at least 14 inmates. The virus has infected more than 2,100 prisoners and 1,200 staff members, according to figures released last month by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

“The correctional maintenance officer was in his 60s,” according to a statement from the department of corrections. “He was a well-respected veteran correctional officer assigned to Baltimore City Correctional Center. DPSCS extends condolences and sympathy to his loved ones.”

A spokeswoman said the department would not identify the officer or discuss further details citing medical privacy laws.

“DPSCS continues to do everything possible to slow the spread of COVID in its facilities,” the department’s statement concluded.

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