The first female inmate to die in federal prison of coronavirus has been pictured, along with the daughter she delivered via cesarean section days before she died, while on a ventilator.
Andrea Circle Bear, 30, died on April 28, about a month after she was hospitalized while serving a 26-month sentence for maintaining a drug-involved premises.
She is the 29th federal inmate to die in the Bureau of Prisons custody since late March. In total, 52 inmates have died from the virus.
Circle Bear was first brought to FMC Carswell, a federal prison medical facility in Fort Worth, Texas, on March 20 from a local jail in South Dakota.
Andrea Circle Bear (pictured) died on April 28 in Fort Worth, Texas, and became the first woman to die in federal prison of coronavirus
Circle Bear gave birth to her newborn daughter, Elyciah (pictured) while hospitalized and on a ventilator
As a new inmate in the federal prison system, she was quarantined as part of the Bureau of Prisons’ plan to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
As of Thursday, more than 2,300 federal inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. About 1,800 of those inmates have recovered.
She was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital on March 28 for ‘potential concerns regarding her pregnancy,’ but was discharged from the hospital the same day and brought back to the prison, officials said.
Three days later, prison medical staff members decided she should be brought back to the hospital after she developed a fever, dry cough and other symptoms, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
Andrea Circle Bear, 30, died on Tuesday, about a month after she was hospitalized at John Peter Smith Hospital (pictured ) while serving a 26-month sentence for maintaining a drug-involved premises
Circle Bear (pictured) was re-admitted into a John Peter Smith Hospital after developing symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever and dry cough
Circle Bear, who at the time was seven months pregnant, was put on a ventilator and told by doctors she had pneumonia.
She called her grandmother, Clara LaBeau, one last time before she died.
‘I prayed with her, and we said our goodbyes,’ LaBeau of South Dakota told Buzzfeed News.
‘We loved each other, and she said to tell her children that she loved them and that was the last time I talked to her.’
According to LaBeau, Circle Bear believed she first contracted coronavirus while being transferred to FMC Carswell.
She reportedly stood outside in the cold, with no jackets or protection, at some point during her transfer and might have encountered the virus then.
One day after being placed on a ventilator, Circle Bear would give birth to her daughter, Elyciah, by way of C-section.
‘I was not thinking she was going to deliver because she was admitted for pneumonia,’ said LaBeau.
Circle Bear’s pregnancy made her high risk for the virus, but she would not be considered priority for release under the Bureau of Prisons and Justice Department guidelines on releasing prisoners to home confinement to help stop the spread.
She was already on a ventilator when an expanded home confinement memo was handed down by the Justice Department in early April.
Circle Bear would not be officially diagnosed with COVID-19 until April 4.
Circle Bear (pictured) was a mother-of-five who struggled with substance abuse, but worked to get clean for her family
During the final phone call, LaBeau said a doctor intervened and asked if she would be able to care for Circle Bear’s daughter when she was born.
Top Five Worst-Hit Federal Prisons in the United States
1. Lompoc FCI
Positive Inmate Cases: 882
Positive Staff Cases: 14
Inmate Deaths: 0
2. FMC Fort Worth
Positive Inmate Cases: 332
Positive Staff Cases: 4
Inmate Deaths: 7
3. Forest City Low FCI
Positive Inmate Cases: 246
Positive Staff Cases: 1
Inmate Deaths: 0
4. Lexington FMC
Positive Inmate Cases: 202
Positive Staff Cases: 6
Inmate Deaths: 1
5. Terminal Island FCI
Positive Inmate Cases: 130
Positive Staff Cases: 15
Inmate Deaths: 8
Statistics up-to-date as of Thursday May 14 at 7:30pm
LaBeau had assumed the doctor meant when the newborn was originally due in May.
‘I didn’t know until the next day when she delivered that she was on a ventilator,’ said LaBeau.
‘I asked if (Andrea) knew about her having her baby, and they said, no.’
BOP did not disclose information about the baby’s health.
Attorney General William Barr ordered the increased use of home confinement and the expedited release of eligible inmates by the Bureau of Prisons, with priority for those at low- or medium-security prisons – starting with virus hot spots.
Under the Bureau of Prisons guidelines, the agency is prioritizing the release of those who have served half of their sentence or inmates who have 18 months or less left and who served at least 25% of their time.
Circle Bear, of Eagle Butte, South Dakota, had been sentenced in January after she pleaded guilty in federal court.
The charges stemmed from incidents in April 2018 when she ‘unlawfully and knowingly used and maintained a place for the purpose of distributing methamphetamine on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation,’ the Justice Department said.
She was arrested after selling methamphetamine to a confidential informant twice for $850.
LaBeau said Circle Bear and her five children were living with her at that time.
Circle Bear struggled with substance abuse, said LaBeau, but had worked to get clean.
Circle Bear hoped to return to her children after her prison sentence in Texas, but was afraid of traveling out of state and away from her loved ones.
‘She was afraid and crying,’ LaBeau said, of her last phone call with Circle Bear.
The five children were sent to live with their grandfather while Circle Bear was in prison.
LaBeau, a full-time worker in her 70s, has taken custody of baby Elyciah.
She doesn’t believe Circle Bear had any idea she would give birth so early.
‘If she knew that I’m sure she would have said something,’ said LaBeau.