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Cellhouse 1, Pod A at the Sterling Correction Facility. A 71-year-old man serving his sentence in the Sterling prison died this week from COVID-19.

A fifth Colorado prison inmate has died from COVID-19, according to state health department data.

The 71-year-old man, who was serving a sentence at the Sterling Correctional Facility, died Wednesday at the North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, said Annie Skinner, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections. He was taken to the facility with symptoms associated with coronavirus, she said. 

Three other inmates have died from the virus at the Sterling prison, where 620 inmates and 89 staff members contracted the disease, data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environmental shows.  

The Colorado Department of Corrections reports only five inmates at the Sterling prison are currently positive for the disease. 

The only other inmate who died of COVID-19 in the state was housed at Fremont Correctional Facility in Cañon City.

The virus has spread rapidly throughout jails and prisons this fall, infecting hundreds of inmates throughout the state. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 3,000 people in jails, prisons or other correctional facilities have tested positive, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment data shows. 

The state's Department of Corrections says it has adopted strict protocols to help stop the spread. 

The agency's executive director, Dean Williams, said in a letter to families dated Oct. 29 that to prevent the spread of the virus, many inmates "need to shelter in place in their cells." He also said that access to phones and video visitation may be limited to help prevent spread.

The measures were taken along with quarantining inmates based on exposure, requiring masks and limiting socialization to smaller groups, he wrote.

Contact the writer at mary.shinn@gazette.com or (719) 429-9264.

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