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Second Baltimore correctional officer dies of COVID-19, department confirms

A Baltimore city correctional officer died of COVID-19 Monday morning following several months of complications from the virus, according to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

The correctional officer was in his 60s and was a “well-respected” veteran of 26 years, said department spokesperson Mark Vernarelli, adding that he worked at a prison facility in Baltimore city.

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The man worked at Baltimore City Booking and Intake Center, according to the correctional officers' union, AFSCME.

This is the second Maryland correctional officer to die of the coronavirus this year. The first was a woman in her 60s who worked for 20 years in the system and died in June. She also worked at the Baltimore City Booking and Intake Center, the department said.

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As of Monday, Maryland has confirmed 1,571 coronavirus cases in its correctional facilities, including 697 staff members and 874 inmates. Eleven inmates have died from the virus, according to department numbers.

A total of 127 correctional staff at the Baltimore City Booking and Intake Center have tested positive for the coronavirus, the highest tally in the state, according to figures supplied by the department, along with 146 inmates.

Only the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup has reported more inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19 than the Baltimore facility. The Jessup prison has 150 inmates who have been confirmed positive for the virus since outbreaks struck Maryland prisons, according to department numbers.

Over the course of the year, several complaints about conditions in Maryland prisons and the tactics used to protect staff members and inmates from COVID-19 have been reported. During the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, advocates called for the release of elderly inmates and others who did not pose an immediate danger or flight risk in hopes of stopping the spread of the virus.

Other concerns about COVID-19 and Maryland prisons and jails have been seen in Baltimore County, where some inmates have filed complaints after allegedly being denied testing for the virus.

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