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Second inmate dies from COVID-19 at Airway Heights Correctional Facility

KREM is monitoring several outbreaks at Eastern Washington jails and prisons.

AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. — There are now several active coronavirus outbreaks in Eastern Washington jails and prisons. This is what we know as of Monday, Jan. 11:

The second COVID-19 related death at the Airway Heights Corrections Center was reported Saturday, Dec. 26. The first was reported on Dec. 18.

According to the Department of Corrections, the person died at a local healthcare facility. 

This is the sixth COVID-related death among incarcerated people in the Washington Department of Corrections.

Airway Heights Corrections Center has reported 1,498 cumulative cases of coronavirus among inmates since Nov. 30, the most of any Washington Department of Corrections facility. The facility is continuing to place living units on quarantine to limit transmissions.

The Washington State Department of Corrections said that it received limited COVID-19 vaccine doses on Dec. 28, and the department has begun vaccinating staff and incarcerated individuals who qualified the same day. 

The state Department of Corrections does not provide information about how many cases are active in its facilities, only the total number of infections recorded. KREM is tracking daily changes. 

Staff have been required to wearing face coverings since April 10, 2020, the spokesperson said. The DOC recently began requiring all departmental staff, contract staff and persons entering all department locations to wear surgical masks, according to a November 6 memo.

Coyote Ridge Corrections Center

Coyote Ridge, in Connell, Wash. has also seen a large number of cases, with 353 total since the pandemic began. Two people have died at Coyote Ridge, according to the DOC

Spokane County Jail

The Spokane County Jail reported one new coronavirus case, according to Jared Webley, spokesperson for Spokane County. Three staffers have also tested positive.

Plans are underway for surveillance testing at the Spokane County Jail and the program could roll out soon, according to Spokane Regional Health District Epidemiologist Betsy Bertelsen.

Bertelsen said if there is an outbreak and an issue at the jailthen SRHD would move forward with plans for more frequent testing or testing around positives that they find at the county jail.

Geiger Community Corrections Center 

Nearly 61% of the inmates at Geiger have tested positive for COVID-19, as of Friday, Dec. 11.

Eighty-three of the facilities' 137 inmates are in isolation after testing positive but four of those inmates are nearing the end of the 10-day isolation period, according to Spokane County Detention Services Director Mike Sparber. 

Soon, those four inmates will be transferred back in with the healthy inmates, Sparber said. 

COVID-19 positive inmates are being housed in 'Building A' and 54 healthy inmates are being housed in 'Building B.' 

According to Sparber, inmates with COVID-19 are showing minor symptoms and none of them have been taken to Spokane hospitals for treatment. 

RELATED: Families of Spokane County inmates concerned about COVID-19 outbreaks