An inmate at a central California prison died of complications from the coronavirus Saturday, authorities said, becoming the state’s 79th person to have a fatal case of COVID-19 while they were incarcerated.
The Avenal State Prison inmate died at a hospital, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a news release. The prisoner’s name was not released.
There have been 15,872 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state prison system, according to online statistics. The virus has killed more than 17,500 Californians and infected more than 900,000.
Advocates say jails and prisons nationwide are prime locations for the virus to spread between inmates and staff. Officials have released hundreds of inmates to decrease jail and prison populations across the country during the pandemic.
The person was the eighth inmate from the Avenal prison to die from the virus, officials said. The prison, which is located in Kings County about 185 miles (297.73 kilometers) north of Los Angeles, has 24 people who are currently positive for COVID-19.
Of the 79 state prison inmates known to have died from the coronavirus, 28 were from the San Quentin State Prison. Twenty-six were incarcerated at the California Institution for Men in Chino.
In a privately run San Diego federal jail, at least 56 inmates tested positive for the coronavirus last week in a facility that houses mostly pretrial inmates, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.