COVID-19 contributed to the death of York County Jail inmate Jason Daigle in September, according to the state medical examiner’s office — a finding at odds with what the state’s top public health official said last month.
The official cause of death for Daigle, who was 47, is listed by the state’s medical examiner as a stroke, due to hypertensive cardiovascular disease, the Portland Press Herald reported Friday night. But the office also listed hemophilia, a genetic disorder that prevents blood from clotting normally, and COVID-19 as two significant conditions contributing to Daigle’s death.
Daigle died Sept. 20 at Maine Medical Center as the York County Jail contended with what became the state’s largest coronavirus outbreak to date in a correctional facility, with 48 inmates and 19 people who work in the jail building ultimately infected.
On Sept. 22, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah said the state wouldn’t count Daigle’s death as a COVID-19 death because Daigle was no longer in isolation because of the infection at the time of his death “and had been deemed to be recovered.”
“In addition to that,” Shah said at the time, “the clinical features around that individual’s passing are not ones that were related to COVID-19.”
A Maine CDC spokesperson told the Press Herald that the medical examiner’s report would not cause the CDC to reclassify the death as one related to COVID-19.
“As Dr. Shah stated when this individual’s death was reported, Maine CDC’s review of medical records determined that the death did not meet Maine CDC’s criteria to be classified as related to COVID-19,” Robert Long told the Portland newspaper. “Maine CDC classifies deaths as related to COVID-19 as part of its public health surveillance and data collection efforts, and does not make determinations about cause of death.”
The Maine CDC has since said the York County Jail outbreak is closed after the facility went more than 28 days without a new case. The outbreak began after a jail employee attended an Aug. 7 wedding in the Katahdin region that’s been connected to 180 cases and later became one of the first people at the jail to test positive for the coronavirus.
After the outbreak began, it was revealed that the jail did not take many standard safety precautions to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in the facility. It did not require mask-wearing, and staff weren’t screened for their symptoms every time they reported for work. The county has hired an outside attorney to investigate the outbreak.
Daigle was never convicted of a crime in Maine, according to the Press Herald. He was arrested in June for unlawful trafficking of scheduled drugs.