Michael Cornethan

TUMWATER, Wash. -- On Saturday Nov. 21 an incarcerated patient at the Washington State Penitentiary died due to COVID-19 complications. 62-year-old Michael Cornethan passed away while being treated for COVID-19 at a local medical facility. 

Cornethan was sentenced to life without parole in 1983 following a conviction of aggravated murder in King County.  

The Penitentiary is currently under quarantine to limit the exposure of COVID-19 among the staff and inmates. In August, the staff began testing for COVID-19 with the inmates. The previous two deaths happened in June 2020. 

The Washington State Penitentiary currently has:

  • 38 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff, and 110 confirmed cases among the incarcerated population, as of November 21, 2020;
  • 117 individuals in isolation, meaning the individuals have symptoms and are separated from healthy people, as of November 21, 2020; and,
  • 559 individuals in quarantine as of November 21, 2020, meaning they were exposed but do not have symptoms and are separated from healthy people.

“The Department of Corrections is sad to announce its third COVID-19 related incarcerated death,” said Corrections Secretary Stephen Sinclair. “The health and safety of the incarcerated individuals under our jurisdiction, our staff and the community remains our top priority.”