OLYMPIA — A Washington inmate has died of the new coronavirus after being held in a prison experiencing an outbreak.
Victor Bueno, 63, died Wednesday after spending about three weeks in a hospital near Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, according to a Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) news statement.
“The Department of Corrections is saddened by this loss,” said DOC Secretary Stephen Sinclair in the Thursday evening statement announcing Bueno’s death. “The health and safety of the incarcerated individuals, the community and our staff remains our top priority.”
Bueno most recently entered the state’s corrections system on Sept. 28, 2017, according to DOC, after violating a protection order out of Kitsap County. His estimated release date was Sept. 19.
He had been held in the minimum-security unit at Coyote Ridge, which is located in Connell, Franklin County. On May 31, Bueno was taken to a nearby medical center for treatment for COVID-19, where he remained until he died, according to DOC.
On June 11, corrections officials put the medium-security unit at Coyote Ridge on restricted movement — which remains in effect — as an outbreak took root there. Nearly 1,800 inmates are still on those restrictions.
As of Thursday, there have been 129 confirmed COVID-19 cases at the prison, according to DOC. Of those, 91 cases are inmates and 38 are corrections staffers. An additional 17 individuals have been isolated after showing symptoms consistent with the virus.
On Wednesday, Coyote Ridge announced plans to test all inmates at the medium-security unit, as well as all staff at the facility.
During the pandemic, inmates, their families and community advocates have urged the state to release thousands of prisoners to protect against any COVID-19 outbreaks.
In April, the state Supreme Court rejected a legal challenge seeking those releases, though Gov. Jay Inslee and DOC did release some inmates to make space for social distancing.
In May, Berisford Anthony Morse, a DOC officer working at Monroe Correctional Complex, where a more limited outbreak occurred, died from the virus.