- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 24, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A 73-year-old man who was a prisoner in Oak Park Heights has died after recently testing positive for COVID-19, becoming the fourth Minnesota inmate to die from virus complications.

The man, who was not immediately identified, died at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, the Department of Corrections said Monday. The man tested positive for COVID-19 while he was being treated for terminal cancer, but it’s not known where he contracted the virus.

Since March, more than 2,750 Minnesota inmates have tested positive for the virus, including 558 who are currently ill. At least 736 corrections staff statewide have become ill; more than half are back on duty.

Two inmates in Faribault remain hospitalized with COVID-19 and are on ventilators, the Star Tribune reported. Of the four inmates who died, all were men with extensive medical issues.

Most prisons have been on semi-permanent lockdown since March, barring visitors and restricting inmate movements, but the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota sued the Department of Corrections last month, alleging it mismanaged the pandemic.

Student volunteers at Mitchell Hamline School of Law helped hundreds of nonviolent and medically vulnerable inmates apply for conditional medical release during the pandemic; roughly 200 of at least 2,300 inmates with underlying health conditions were approved.

Jon Geffen, director of the law school’s Reentry Clinic, said some applicants were denied release based on a public safety review by the Department of Corrections, but others were dismissed without clear explanation.

Minnesota health officials reported 38 more COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday and 6,423 new coronavirus infections, raising the totals for pandemic to 3,303 deaths and 282,916 cases.

Minnesota currently ranks fifth in the nation for new cases per capita. There were 1,634.5 new cases per 100,000 people in Minnesota over the past two weeks. One in every 123 people tested positive in the past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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