Covid photo

Two inmates have died in as many days from coronavirus at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, where the U.S. government plans to carry out two federal executions next week.

INDIANAPOLIS — The counties that include Indiana and Ball State universities are listed as the highest-risk locations for coronavirus infections in Indiana on the state health department’s updated county-by-county map, released Wednesday.

Monroe County, which includes the main Indiana University campus in Bloomington; and Delaware County, which includes Ball State in Muncie, are the only two listed with the Indiana State Department of Health’s orange rating for moderate to high coronavirus spread after seven counties had that rating last week. No counties were listed with the highest-risk red rating in either week.

The remaining 90 counties received yellow or blue ratings based on the number of new cases per 100,000 residents and the percentage of tests confirming COVID-19 infections.

In Northwest Indiana, La Porte County remained in the blue rating category with 53 cases per 100,000 residents over the previous week, and a 7-day positivity rate for all tests at 2.98 percent.

Porter and Starke counties improved to a blue rating after being the yellow category last week, while Lake County remained in the yellow category. St. Joseph County was also in the yellow category, but was flagged because of a large number of cases on the University of Notre Dame campus.

The ISDH also added 12 more confirmed or presumed coronavirus-related deaths to the state’s toll, raising it to 3,472 (3,247 confirmed and 225 probable). La Porte County has had 37 deaths, according to state reports.

The ISDH also reported 624 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19, bringing the state total to 107,809 confirmed cases. La Porte County had 8 new cases, bringing the total to 1,336.

Two of the recent deaths were inmates at the federal prison complex where the U.S. government plans to carry out two executions next week.

The deaths are likely to raise alarm with advocates and lawyers for the condemned men over the spread of coronavirus at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute. As of Tuesday, more than 40 inmates had confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the agency’s statistics.

The executions of Christopher Andre Vialva and William Emmett LeCroy are scheduled next week. The government carried out three executions in July and two in August.

The Bureau of Prisons said 53-year-old Tim Hocutt died Monday at the Terre Haute facility. Serving a 13-year sentence for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, he had reported a “mild cough, congestion and nausea” and had previously tested negative for COVID-19, the Bureau of Prisons said.

But Hocutt tested positive on Monday after he alerted medical staff to his condition and was pronounced dead the same day.

His death came a day after that of 65-year-old Byron Dale Bird, who was taken to a local hospital on Aug. 27 after testing positive for the virus and was admitted to the ICU. He died at the hospital on Sunday.

Bird was serving a 74-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexual abuse of a minor, witness tampering, failing to register as a sex offender and other charges.

The spiritual advisers for two of the men executed in July and the family of one of the men’s victims had fought unsuccessfully to delay their executions over coronavirus concerns.

The federal prison system has struggled to combat the pandemic behind bars, where social distancing is nearly impossible. As of Tuesday, 13,477 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 at facilities across the U.S.; 11,623 had recovered. Officials said 120 inmates have died since late March.

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