A Philadelphia man has become the first state prison inmate in Pennsylvania to die from complications of the coronavirus.
The 67-year-old, whom prison officials did not identify, had been serving a life sentence for murder at SCI Phoenix, a prison in Eagleville, Montgomery County.
The announcement comes days after the governors of Pennsylvania and New Jersey authorized the early release of potentially thousands of state prison inmates in an effort to prevent major outbreaks at the facilities. Only nonviolent offenders are eligible for placement on house arrest or early parole.
The SCI Phoenix inmate died Wednesday after receiving treatment at Einstein Medical Center, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections said. On Saturday, the Montgomery County coroner identified his cause of death as acute respiratory distress from pneumonia.
He also had underlying conditions including heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver.
Department of Corrections officials had previously denied the death, when asked about it Thursday.
At least 11 inmates and six employees at SCI Phoenix have tested positive for COVID-19. No other Pennsylvania state prisons had reported sick inmates as of Friday, but at least 13 additional officers have been infected.
In New Jersey on Friday, officials announced its first death of a corrections officer. Nelson Perdomo, 44, of Middlesex County, had worked at East Jersey State Prison for 19 years. One New Jersey inmate has also died, and at least 129 officers and 20 prisoners have tested positive across the state.