Vaughn inmate dies of respiratory failure

SMYRNA — A COVID-19 test was pending after a 73-year-old inmate at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center died of complications from respiratory failure Thursday, officials said.

Joseph S. Russo died at Bayhealth Hospital Kent Campus after complications from multiple underlying health issues. He was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday.

Russo tested negative for the coronavirus on April 10 and Monday, Department of Correction spokesman Paul Shavack said.

The state health laboratory is conducting the third test. Russo’s body was turned over to the Delaware Division of Public Science.

The DOC said Russo first received a proactive test at JTVCC during monitoring of 45 asymptomatic inmates in a minimum security housing unit, including twice daily temperature checks.

Russo, of Newark, was serving a life sentence for an unlawful sexual intercourse conviction.