Alfonzo Raymond Salazar, a death row inmate at Florence Prison, died of COVID-19, according to his public defender. However, the Department of Corrections has yet to comment…again.
In Arizona Friday, the state health department reported 314 new COVID-19 cases for a total of 7,962 confirmed cases and 10 new deaths.
So far, 330 people have died of COVID-19, and out of that number, 252 were 65 and older, reiterating the virus’ most vulnerable population.
Additionally, the death toll includes another death row inmate, Alfonso Raymond Salazar.
A federal public defender whose office represented Salazar says the inmate died Thursday at a hospital from COVID-19 complications.
However, the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office hasn’t yet determined a cause of death, and the Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry didn’t immediately return a call Thursday evening seeking comment.
Salazar was sentenced to die in the 1986 killing of 83-year-old Sara Kaplan in Pima County.
Before being taken to the hospital on April 21, Salazar was housed at Florence prison, which accounts for 35 of the 50 cases of the coronavirus cases in state prisons.
Salazar was the first Arizona death row inmate to die from the virus, and federal public defender Dale Baich said seven other death row prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19.
Two weeks ago, 64-year-old prisoner with diabetes, Joseph M. Assyd, died at a hospital in Tucson as a result of COVID-19 after suffering a respiratory infection, Pima County Medical Examiner Gregory Hess said earlier this week.
In both cases, the DOC did not comment on whether or not both prisoners died from COVID-19, and in both cases, confirmation came from other sources.
Criminal Justice advocates maintain that the DOC is not releasing accurate information on COVID-19 testing, cases, and on steps to maintain CDC guidelines within jails and prisons in the state.
The Associated Press contributed to the report.
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