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Man at Moose Lake sex offender facility dies from COVID-19

It's the first COVID-related death of anyone in Minnesota's sex offender program.

The Minnesota Sex Offender Program on Thursday announced that a man at the program's facility in Moose Lake died of COVID-19 on Dec. 2. 

It marks the first COVID-related death of a sex offender or staff at MSOP facilities, which are located in Moose Lake and St. Peter. There remain 18 active cases of COVID-19 at MSOP facilities. 

The Moose Lake facility houses people who have been petitioned for civil commitment, people receiving treatment and others who refuse to participate in sex offender-specific treatment. The facility features two buildings that house up to 550 sex offenders. 

Because of data privacy laws, the MSOP can't release the identity or any information about the man's history. 

“Losing a loved one is always difficult, but it’s especially painful under these circumstances, when the pandemic is claiming so many lives,” said Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. “Our hearts go out to his family, friends and all those who will miss him.”

Minnesota is home to around 740 civilly committed sex offenders who are receiving treatment. 

While this marks the first death of someone at a sex offender facility in Minnesota, there have been five COVID-related deaths of incarcerated individuals in Minnesota's prison system. 

The Twin Cities Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee will hold a press conference Dec. 8 to shine light on what it calls a "harsh reality" prisoners are facing as COVID-19 has easily spread through Minnesota's correctional facilities.

The group is urging Gov. Tim Walz to declare a state of emergency in Minnesota prisons that would allow some inmates to be released. 

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