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Inmate in Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla dies from COVID-19 complications

Michael Cornethan was 62 years old. He died from COVID-19 related issues on Saturday, Nov. 21.

WALLA WALLA, Wash. — An incarcerated patient at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla has died of issues related to COVID-19 according to the Washington State Department of Corrections. 

Michael Cornethan passed away on Saturday,  Nov. 21, at a medical facility near the prison, according to the DOC. He was 62 years old. 

This is the third COVID-19 related death in the Department of Corrections, Corrections Secretary Stephen Sinclair said. 

"The health and safety of the incarcerated individuals under our jurisdiction, our staff and the community remains our top priority," Sinclair said. 

Cornethan was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole after an aggravated murder conviction out of King County, according to the DOC. He was housed in the long-term medium security facility at the Washington State Penitentiary. 

The penitentiary's medium security units are on quarantine status to further contain the spread of COVID-19 across the incarcerated population and staff, the DOC said. In August, the facility started COVID-19 testing all staff on a weekly basis, and have tested all the inmates in the medium security complex. 

The Washington State Penitentiary currently has 38 confirmed COVID-19 cases among staff and 110 confirmed cases among the incarcerated population as of Nov. 21, the DOC said. There are currently 117 people in isolation. In total 559 individuals have been quarantined since the beginning of the pandemic.