McCormick Correctional Institution has recorded its third inmate death from COVID-19.
State prison officials announced at 9 p.m. Sunday that 71-year-old Darrell N. Mitchell died earlier in the day. He had been hospitalized since testing positive Aug. 13.
Mitchell, who was serving a 30-year sentence for a murder in Florence County, had several underlying conditions, according to the prison system.
Six staff members and 32 inmates at the McCormick prison have the respiratory virus while nine inmates and nine employees have recovered.
Systemwide, there are 795 inmates and 86 staff members with the virus, while 23 inmates and one employee have died from the virus.
To reduce the risk of infection to inmates and staff, the agency suspended visitation and has allowed only essential staff into its facilities since March. The agency has provided each employee and inmate with masks and officials are encouraging them to wear them in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. People working the front entries at prisons are wearing surgical masks, face shields and gloves.
In addition to the other screenings performed while entering a prison, officers have had their temperatures checked to make sure they don’t have fevers. Anyone who shows signs they might be infected is denied entrance.
Any employee who came into close contact with a COVID-19 patient self-monitors at home for 14 days, while inmates with close contact are quarantined for 14 days. Any employee who tests positive for the virus is unable to return to work until they are medically cleared to do so.
The new coronavirus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most patients but some experience serious illness, such as pneumonia, or even death. Those most at risk for serious illness are those who are older or have certain medical problems.