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Ninth Iowa Inmate Dies from COVID-19 as Lawmakers Call for Better Protections in Prisons

Coronavirus

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Iowa Department of Corrections reported the ninth death of an inmate due to complications of COVID-19.

Timothy Christopher Bryant, 59, died on Sunday “likely due to complications related to COVID-19 and other preexisting medical conditions,” Iowa prison officials said.

Bryant was transported to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics from the Anamosa State Penitentiary several days earlier when his health began to worsen.

Bryant had been serving a life sentence for first-degree kidnaping in Polk County, according to the Iowa Department of Corrections. His sentence began on Feb. 25, 1992.

Bryant is the fourth inmate from the Anamosa State Penitentiary to die from complications related to COVID-19.

Last week, the Iowa Department of Corrections reported the first coronavirus-related death of a prison staff member. A staff member at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville died due to a COVID-19 infection. As of Monday evening, 213 inmates and 96 staff members are currently infected with the virus.

Earlier Monday, a union leader and two state lawmakers called on Gov. Kim Reynolds to do more to protect inmates and prison staff from the coronavirus. AFSCME Council 61 President Danny Homan held a virtual press conference with Democratic State Rep. Wes Breckenridge and Democratic State Sen. Rich Taylor. The group argued that Reynolds has not done enough to protect those in Iowa’s prisons.

“The pressure that the governor is putting on the Department of Corrections is shown by the lack of funding for proper PPE. If she would give them the funding that they need, then we wouldn’t be having these problems. We still might have some of the problems, but we wouldn’t be having them in the magnitude we are having them right now,” said Taylor.

The group said prison staffing is also a major issue right now. With nearly 100 staff members out with the virus, the remaining employees are being stretched thin and being asked to work much longer hours than normal.

AFSCME Council 61 represents Iowa’s corrections officers and staff. Breckenridge represents Jasper County, which includes the Newton Correctional Facility. Taylor represents Lee and Henry counties, which are home to two correctional institutions.

The Iowa Department of Corrections has outlined the steps it has taken to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Find that information here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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