BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Three more essential workers in the State of Maryland have now died from COVID-19.

The local chapter of the Municipal Workers Union AFSCME said the victims worked in state prisons and at the University of Maryland College Park.

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Leaders with the local chapter of the AFSCME said they learned a Hagerstown night shift correctional officer died of COVID-19 within the last 48 hours.

CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE:

A correctional officer at the Baltimore City Correctional Center died at the end of last week as a result of the virus.

The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services issued the following statement:

The Department has sent its condolences to the loved ones and coworkers of a correctional maintenance officer in his 60s from the Baltimore region who died from COVID complications, and to those of a Hagerstown correctional officer in his late 50s who also has passed away from COVID.

The Department also announces the death of a Hagerstown inmate who was in his 60s. The former resident of Maryland Correctional Training Center died at the local hospital.

DPSCS does not announce any COVID-related deaths until and unless the official Medical Examiner’s ruling lists COVID as the cause of death.

The Department continues to act with urgency and precision in attempting to vaccinate as many employees as possible as quickly as possible.

The very day the first doses arrived, we vaccinated the vaccinators. In a little over a week, more than 2,200 employees have been vaccinated in all regions of the state.

All frontline correctional staff were given priority in receiving the vaccine.

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We will begin Dose 2 vaccination clinics within days.

DPSCS is following the state’s and governor’s guidelines on inmate vaccination for those over 75 in congregate care facilities.

The union also say a facilities employee at the University of Maryland College Park died at the end of December. Their identity has not yet been released.

“This is an employee who had been reporting throughout the pandemic and for us,” Todd Holden, President of AFSCME Local 1072 at UMCP, said.

The union is criticizing the university for lack of timely notifications about employees testing positive for the virus.

They’re now calling out Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration, claiming it’s unwilling to come to health and safety agreements to protect workers.

“These are the governor’s employees that he has a tremendous amount of power and control over,” Patrick Moran, President of AFSCME Md. 3, said. “They’re not hitting the mark, they are losing this battle and as a result we are here again, and it’s very sad.”

In total, nine of the union’s members have now died of COVID-19, and 3,000 have tested positive.

Union members say they would like to see higher quality PPP, more robust testing and upgrades in ventilation at employee workplaces.

“This is a mess. Again, if there was actually planning and coordination, more people’s lives would be saved and fewer people would be sick,” Stuart Katzenberg, Director of Collective Bargaining and Growth at AFSCME Council 3, said.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Stetson Miller