Warden, medical director of Louisiana prison die after contracting coronavirus, state says


AVOYELLES PARISH, La. (WDSU) – Three new coronavirus-related deaths are being reported by Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

An inmate who contracted the virus at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, better known as Angola, marks the first death of a state inmate with the coronavirus. The death was reported over the weekend.

The warden and medical director of a state prison in Avoyelles Parish have also died of coronavirus complications, Department of Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc said in a statement to WDSU on Monday. The news comes about a week after DOC confirmed the death of a Angola employee who had tested positive for the virus.

Raymond Laborde Correctional Center Warden Sandy McCain died after a “lengthy” battle with COVID-19, said Leblanc, who called the 24-year DOC veteran a respected leader, gentleman and “a dear friend.” Dr. Casey McVea, Raymond Laborde’s medical director, worked for DOC for a decade prior to his death, Leblanc said. Lt. Timothy Gordon, the Angola employee who died, had worked for DOC for about four years and was promoted in November.

“We are deeply saddened by the deaths of our dedicated employees who meant so much to us,” Leblanc’s statement said. “Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with the families and friends of these staff members.”

A total of 99 inmates at state prisons have contracted the virus, in addition to 77 prison employees, according to DOC’s coronavirus data dashboard. The agency says three inmates and fourteen employees have since recovered.

“It is without doubt that this pandemic will have lasting impacts on our Department. Today’s news about the loss of our corrections family members is just one example of those impacts,” Leblanc said.

See the following updates on coronavirus cases at prisons and jails:

A total of 28 juveniles had contracted the virus at one of four state-run detention facilities for juveniles, according to the Office of Juvenile Justice. Of those 27, 16 had reportedly recovered, the OJJ reports. Additionally, 24 employees of the same facilities had contracted the virus, including three who have since recovered.

The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office saw a jump of 32 new confirmed cases of COVD-19 among inmates over the weekend after a large batch of tests were performed. The agency is now reporting a total of 56 inmates tested positive for the virus. Those with positive cases are medically segregated, the agency said. A total of 339 inmates have been tested for COVID-19, and the agency is awaiting the results of a little over a third of the tests.

A total of 47 OPSO employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, include 10 employees who have recovered, the agency said. Eleven of the jail’s health care workers, who are employees of OPSO’s medical contractor Wellpath, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Seven inmates at a federal prison in Allen Parish have died after contracting COVID-19, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons reports. A total of 26 inmates at FCI Oakdale have tested positive for the virus, as well as 22 staff members.

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