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First COVID-19 Death Reported Of Man Who Was Incarcerated In The Allegheny County Jail

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
A 48-year-old, COVID-19-positive man, who had been incarcerated in the Allegheny County Jail before his hospitalization in late August, died Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021.

A COVID-19-positive man who had been incarcerated in the Allegheny County Jail prior to his admission to a hospital in late August has died in that hospital, county officials announced Sunday.

The death of the 48-year-old man is the first related to COVID-19 involving a person in the custody of the county jail, county spokesperson Amie Downs said. His name was not released, but in a statement, county officials said the man was not vaccinated and was affected by other medical risk factors.

After the man entered the hospital, his medical team there made decisions regarding his care after consulting with a member of his family, according to the statement. Jail administrators worked daily with his medical team and family to obtain updates on his care.

"Additional efforts were also made in consultation with the Public Defender’s Office and the inmate’s private counsel for the inmate’s release and to petition the court for emergency visitation," according to the statement.

The man's death brings the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Allegheny County to 2,095 since March 2020. The statewide total of COVID-19 deaths of incarcerated people is now 147 — 141 of whom were held in state correctional institutions.

The Allegheny County jail offers the three available vaccines for COVID-19 to people held there, county officials said. The current vaccination rate at the jail is 51 percent, with 815 people fully vaccinated and 52 partially vaccinated. On Sunday, the jail held 1,699 people.

“We are deeply saddened by this loss and express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of this individual. Our hearts go out to them during this difficult time,” jail Warden Orlando Harper said in the statement. “This pandemic has impacted all of our lives in severe and devastating ways, and that includes those who we care for at this facility, and those who provide that care. For over a year and a half, we have all worked through difficult and demanding circumstances to continue to respond to the challenges of COVID and have managed that with no loss of life until now.”

Cindi Lash joins Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting from Missouri Lawyers Media, a subsidiary of BridgeTower Media, where she began her tenure as editor in 2018. Before joining BridgeTower, she served as editor-in-chief at Pittsburgh Magazine for four years, acted as regional editor of local news startup Patch.com, and before Patch spent 15 years as a reporter and editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.