Vaughn inmate dies from COVID-19 complications

DOVER – The Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) announced on Sunday that Robert Francisco, a 79-year-old inmate with underlying health conditions from James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC), died on Saturday evening at Bayhealth Hospital-Kent Campus from complications from COVID-19.

Mr. Francisco was part of a minimum-security housing unit that has been closely monitored since April 8, with twice daily temperature checks and proactive COVID-19 testing on April 10. His first test was returned as negative, as was a second COVID-19 test administered at JTVCC on April 13.

When daily monitoring revealed that Francisco was registering a fever on April 16, he was immediately moved to the prison infirmary and then admitted to Bayhealth Hospital-Kent Campus later that same day. A third COVID-19 test administered on April 16 was returned as positive. In recent days Mr. Francisco’s condition deteriorated and he had been receiving palliative care since April 24.

Mr. Francisco, of Newark, had been in DOC custody since 1986 and was serving a 60-year sentence for unlawful sexual intercourse.  

DOC also announced Sunday that a total of nine inmates have recovered from COVID-19, including one new recovery in addition to eight announced earlier this week. These inmates are currently housed in a transitional housing unit in the JTVCC COVID-19 treatment center.

The DOC also announced this past week that a correctional officer and probation officer have fully recovered from the illness.

The latest positive test results are as follows: 

  • One inmate from the Sussex Community Corrections Center (SCCC) in Georgetown. This inmate, who has multiple pre-existing conditions, arrived at the facility on a Violation of Probation on Thursday and was immediately isolated as directed by the DOC’s COVID-19 protocol. On Friday, after displaying symptoms of illness, the inmate was admitted to an area hospital, where a COVID-19 test was administered. The positive test result was returned on Saturday. The inmate remains in an area hospital in stable condition.
  • Three inmates from a minimum-security building at JTVCC that has been closely monitored for more than two weeks, including twice daily forehead temperature checks and distribution of face masks to building residents. After displaying signs of illness, the inmates were isolated and a COVID-19 test was administered. The positive test result was received on Saturday. Two of the inmates are being treated in the prison infirmary and are in stable condition, and one inmate has been moved to the JTVCC COVID-19 treatment center.
  • Two correctional officers assigned to JTVCC. The officers were last on duty six days ago – on April 20, and five days ago – on April 21, respectively. All Officers have been required to wear face masks since April 10 while on duty. After beginning to experience flu-like symptoms, the officers began to self-isolate at home, and as symptoms developed sought medical attention, at which time COVID-19 tests were administered. The positive COVID-19 test results were received by the officers on Saturday and subsequently verified by the DOC. This brings the total to 27 correctional officers statewide to test positive for the virus.

No additional information will be provided about the identity of the inmates or the officers for privacy protection.

“The Delaware Department of Correction and our healthcare professionals continue our rigorous efforts to contain any cases of COVID-19 to a minimum and medium housing facility at the prison in Smyrna and a work release center in Sussex County,” said Commissioner Claire DeMatteis. “The 16 inmates who have tested positive and have symptoms of the virus are receiving excellent care.

“An additional 22 inmates who have tested positive through our aggressive proactive testing are asymptomatic with no signs of a fever, cough, shortness of breath or other symptoms. These asymptomatic inmates remain in quarantine in the DOC COVID Treatment Center for further screenings and monitoring.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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