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Inmate at Missouri prison with surge of coronavirus cases dies

Inmate at Missouri prison with surge of coronavirus cases dies

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Approach to Farmington Correctional Center

A car heads toward the Farmington Correctional Center in this 2010 photo. Photo by David Carson/dcarson@post-dispatch.com. 

JEFFERSON CITY — A 70-year-old Missouri prison inmate died Saturday amid an ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus at the facility.

But a Department of Corrections spokeswoman did not link the death of Willie Earl Miller to COVID-19, saying the agency does not disclose “confidential medical information about any particular offender.”

“I can confirm that Mr. Miller died from natural causes over the weekend,” added department spokeswoman Karen Pojmann.

According to court records, Miller was serving a 999-year sentence after being convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in her apartment in the Central West End in July 1990.

Miller, who was homeless at the time, initially denied the crime, but admitted the rape after being confronted with the victim's jewelry, which he had taken and left at a relative’s home.

The Farmington Correctional Center and the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Vandalia have been virus hot spots for at least two weeks.

The department says 287 inmates have tested positive in Farmington, while 203 are positive in Vandalia.

Throughout the rest of the state’s 20 prisons, there are a total of 753 active cases.

The agency lists only one death to COVID-19 dating back to March.

Pojmann said there are three inmates receiving outside medical treatment for COVID-related illnesses.

In total, throughout the seven months of the pandemic, 13 inmates who tested positive for COVID have required outside medical treatment, she said.

A monthly report compiled by Corizon Health, which provides health care services to inmates through a contract with the state, shows hospital admissions have not spiked during the pandemic.

The number of admissions in March was 57, compared to 56 in April. May and June saw 36 and 40 admissions, respectively.

Figures for more recent months have not been made available by the department.

The number of emergency room visits also has not spiked, according to the Corizon report.

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