A 66-year-old man incarcerated at MCF-Faribault and a 63-year old man from MCF-Moose Lake died Thursday at Abbot Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. Both had recently been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The identities of the men are being withheld pending full notification of next of kin.

“This has been a difficult day for the Department of Corrections,” said Commissioner Paul Schnell. “We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of these men. We continue to do everything in our power to mitigate and contain the spread of COVID in our facilities."

Minnesota has the fourth lowest incarceration rate in the nation, yet, based on available data, is fourth highest in the number of COVID tests (77,467) performed to date, including large states like California and Texas.

These are the seventh and eight COVID-related deaths of incarcerated people in the Minnesota DOC system since the pandemic began. It is the fourth death from MCF-Faribault and the first death from MCF-Moose Lake. Faribault currently has 829 COVID-positive incarcerated people — 432 have recovered — and 54 COVID-positive staff.

Moose Lake currently has 45 COVID-positive incarcerated people, and 20 COVID-positive staff. There are 1,783 people currently incarcerated at MCF-Faribault and 929 at MCF-Moose Lake.

Friday's report from the Minnesota Department of Health listed a total of 4,765 COVID cases in Rice County and 2,305 in Steele. There have been 45 deaths attributed to COVID in Rice County, including the three prison inmates, and nine in Steele.

Three other incarcerated people department-wide are currently in critical condition and receiving ventilator treatment at outside hospitals. Several DOC staff members are also currently hospitalized due to COVID.

The DOC has conducted comprehensive testing of all incarcerated people and staff in our facilities, and taken measures across the system to manage the risk of COVID-19 entering facilities and spreading, including: implementing “Stay with Unit” plans, enacting mandatory barrier mask policies, and installing hand washing stations. Each facility has also taken a number of steps specific to their unique environment. Those plans can be viewed here: Facility Specific COVID-19 Responses / Department of Corrections (mn.gov). MCF-Faribault-specific plans can be viewed here: MCF-Faribault COVID-19 Response / Department of Corrections (mn.gov) and MCF-Moose Lake’s plans can be viewed here MCF-Moose Lake COVID-19 Response / Department of Corrections (mn.gov)

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