Walla Walla prisoner dies after contracting COVID-19

Michael Cornethan, 62 Years Of Age
Michael Cornethan

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – A Walla Walla prisoner has died as the Washington State Penitentiary faces an outbreak among inmates and staff.

“The Department of Corrections is sad to announce its third COVID-19 related incarcerated death,” said Corrections Secretary Stephen Sinclair. “The health and safety of the incarcerated individuals under our jurisdiction, our staff and the community remains our top priority.”

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According to the Washington Department of Corrections, 62-year-old Michael Cornethan died on Saturday after being taken to a medical facility on Friday for treatment of COVID-19.

Cornethan had been imprisoned since May of 1983 and was serving a life sentence for murder out of King County. The DOC said he had been housed in long-term medium custody at the Washington State Penitentiary.

“The Penitentiary’s Medium Security Units are currently on quarantine status to further contain the spread of COVID-19 across the incarcerated population and staff. In August, the facility began COVID-19 testing of all staff within the facility on a weekly basis and have tested all of the incarcerated individuals housed at the Medium Security Complex,” said a statement published by the DOC.

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Two other inmates died of the virus in June at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center. DOC is keeping a tally of deaths in their facilities on this webpage. They also provided these stats:

The Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla currently has:

  • 38 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff, and 110 confirmed cases among the incarcerated population, as of November 21, 2020;
  • 117 individuals in isolation, meaning the individuals have symptoms and are separated from healthy people, as of November 21, 2020; and,
  • 559 individuals in quarantine as of November 21, 2020, meaning they were exposed but do not have symptoms and are separated from healthy people.

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