A York County Jail inmate died Sunday, and it is not yet clear whether that death is related to a COVID-19 outbreak there.

York County Sheriff Bill King confirmed the man’s death in a news release Monday. He said the person’s name is not being released pending notification of next of kin.

The sheriff did not say whether the man had previously tested positive for COVID-19. Nearly half the inmates and employees at the York County Jail contracted the virus this summer, and that outbreak is the largest so far at a Maine correctional facility.

Spokesman Robert Long from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that no deaths had yet been associated with the outbreak at the jail. But the amount of time it takes to determine whether a death is related to COVID-19 varies, he said. He did not respond to a followup email asking whether the agency has determined if the death is linked to the virus.

The sheriff and the county manager also did not answer an email asking that question. Instead, King wrote in an email that HIPAA “protects the individually identifiable health information about a decedent for 50 years following the death of the individual.”

The sheriff said in the release that the inmate “complained of a medical issue” at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. He was taken to a local hospital and then to Maine Medical Center in Portland. He died Sunday around noon.


“The inmate’s passing was attended by medical personnel,” King wrote. “An autopsy is pending.”

King also said his office notified the Maine State Police, the Maine Department of Corrections and the state Medical Examiner’s Office about the man’s death, in keeping with county and state policies.

The state has traced the outbreak to a jail employee who attended an Aug. 7 wedding and reception in the Millinocket region that has been connected to 177 cases statewide and, as of Saturday, eight deaths. Nearly two weeks later, the first person from the jail tested positive for the virus. The county launched universal testing in the facility and learned dozens of people were infected.

Long said Friday that the total number of cases associated with the jail outbreak is 84. That includes 48 inmates, 18 jail employees, one additional individual who works in the building and 17 household contacts of employees. As of Friday, the agency classified eight of those household contacts as confirmed cases and nine as probable.

Also on Friday, York County Manager Greg Zinser said most inmates and employees who tested positive for COVID-19 have completed their required quarantine. He also said no inmates were experiencing symptoms.

Zinser has said it is investigating the jail outbreak, but has so far provided little information about who is conducting the review. York County Sheriff William King told the Portland Press Herald that, before the outbreak, masks were not required most of the time for inmates and correctional officers.

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