BURGAW- Pender County Health Department reported the first death due to COVID-19 in the county. The patient, an offender from the Pender County Correctional Institution, passed away in the evening of April 21.
“Coronavirus has caused deaths around our region and it’s difficult when one occurs,” said Carolyn Moser, Pender County Health and Human Services director.
The Pender County Board of County Commissioners issued a statement expressing their sympathies to the family of the COVID-19 patient who lost his life at the hospital.
“Pender County residents should continue to practice social distancing, stay at home, and practice good hygiene,” said Moser. “We know these measures work in our effort to mitigate this virus.”
The Pender County Commissioners urged residents to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously and follow the guidelines set forth by the county health department, Center for Disease Control and North Carolina Health and Human Services.
While the offender’s death was the first in Pender County, his death was also the first death in the state’s prison system. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety also issued a release.
“Any death is a tragedy, and we must continue our efforts to do all we can to try and flatten the curve of COVID-19 in Prisons,” said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons. “The health and safety of the staff and the men and women in our custody is of paramount importance.”
The offender exhibited symptoms of a viral infection on April 8, 2020. He was promptly isolated from the population, in keeping with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the NC Department of Health and Human Services and tested for COVID-19. The test came back positive on April 10, 2020. Despite constant medical attention, he was hospitalized on April 13, 2020. His condition worsened, and the offender died at the hospital on April 21.
The offender was a male in his late fifties and had underlying health conditions. Given his family’s right to privacy and the confidentiality of prison offender records, the Department of Public Safety will not further identify the individual.
Prisons leadership has taken a substantial number of actions throughout the North Carolina prison system to try to prevent transmission of the virus. Those actions, along with offender testing information that is updated daily, are found on the North Carolina Department of Public Safety website.