2nd Minnesota prison inmate dies after testing positive for COVID-19

A second Minnesota prison inmate has died after testing positive for COVID-19, state corrections officials said Saturday.

Leroy Wallace Bergstrom, 71, an inmate at the prison in Faribault, died at a hospital on Saturday, according to the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Bergstrom tested positive for COVID-19 on June 10, the department said. He had been hospitalized in critical condition since June 16. An autopsy to determine the cause of death is pending.

Another Faribault inmate, Adrian Raymaar Keys, 43, died Tuesday after testing positive for COVID-19. The Corrections Department said one incarcerated person in Minnesota remains hospitalized.

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The Faribault prison currently houses 1,718 men; the first case of COVID-19 in the facility was reported on June 3. The department has been testing all inmates and staff.

As of Friday, 4,892 tests of inmates had been conducted at the Faribault facility — some inmates have been tested multiple times — with 206 inmates testing positive. That's about 12 percent of the prison population.

The corrections department said most inmates who’ve tested positive are experiencing no symptoms.

Authorities said they've taken steps to minimize the COVID-19 risk in the state's prisons, and that the prison population statewide has dropped from 8,900 on March 1 to 7,962 as of Thursday.

The Decarcerate Minnesota Coalition — a group calling for prison reform and the release of more people being held in prisons, amid the pandemic — is planning a protest outside the Department of Corrections headquarters in St. Paul on Thursday.

The coalition is calling for "a moratorium on parole officers’ use of technical violations to send people back to prison, and the DOC’s release of those currently serving time for technical violations — up to one-quarter of Minnesota prisoners."

They're also calling on the department to release inmates with medical conditions, people who qualify for work release, and inmates with fewer than 90 days left of their sentences.