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Maryland reports that two more inmates have died of COVID-19 as the pace of prisoner vaccinations accelerates

The deaths of two elderly prisoners in February were the result of COVID-19, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services has confirmed, bringing the total number of inmates who have died of the virus to 26 since the pandemic began last year.

One prisoner was a man in his 80s who was living at Roxbury Correctional Institution in Hagerstown. The other was in his 70s and living at the Jessup Correctional Institution. Both of them died in February, and their death certificates were “just recently received” by the department, spokeswoman Latoya Gray said in a statement.

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As of Friday, April 11, a total of 26 inmates have died from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. The Marshall Project, a non-profit focusing on criminal justice issues, said Maryland’s total of 13 deaths per 10,000 prisoners is 33 lowest in the country, tied with seven other states.

About 20-percent of the more than 18,000 inmates in the state have received at least one vaccination. As of April 11, according to DOC data, 3,827 inmates have received the first dose of the vaccination, while 787 have received a second shot.

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Gray explained the lag time between apparent COVID-19 related prison deaths and the release of the information.

“Even deaths that ‘appear’ to be COVID-related are not reportable until after the State Medical Examiner officially issues a certificate of death expressly listing COVID as the cause of death,” Gray’s said in a statement.

“This confirmation frequently takes several weeks or longer, and the Department has no control over when the certificate is completed and received. Listing and confirming a COVID death is totally dependent upon the Department actually receiving this certificate.”

During the pandemic the Eastern Correctional Institution has had 1,087 confirmed cases, most in the state. As of Friday, the department said there are 101 active cases of COVID-19 among inmates, including 52 among those housed in the Baltimore region.

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