A Woman Gave Birth In Prison While On A Ventilator. Weeks Later, She Died Of The Coronavirus.
Andrea Circle Bear was 30 years old and the first female prisoner to die in federal custody.
On March 31, Andrea Circle Bear was put on a ventilator in a federal medical prison in Texas.
The next day, while still hooked up to the machine, she gave birth to a baby via cesarean section.
Three days later after that, she tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Within four weeks, she was dead.
In a statement on Tuesday, officials with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) said Circle Bear died on April 28 at Fort Worth's FMC Carswell, which holds more than 1,600 female prisoners with special medical needs.
She is the first confirmed COVID-19 death of a female inmate in federal custody, a BOP spokesman confirmed.
Circle Bear was considered to have a preexisting medical condition that put her at a higher risk of developing more severe symptoms of COVID-19, officials said, although the agency did not disclose what that condition was.
The 30-year-old inmate had been sentenced to 26 months on Jan. 14 after being convicted on a charge of maintaining a drug-involved premises.
According to court records, she was arrested after she allegedly sold grams of methamphetamine to a confidential informant on April 24, 2019 for $400. On April 30, she allegedly sold another 3.5 grams of methamphetamine to a confidential informant for $450.
Court records said Circle Bear had a history of substance abuse and, as part of her sentencing, it was recommended that she receive drug treatment while in custody. If the treatment was deemed "successful," she could have been eligible for a sentence reduction.
Circle Bear, who was Native American, had been transferred to FMC Carswell from Winner City Jail in South Dakota on March 20.
She was immediately placed in quarantine when she arrived at the federal prison and was taken to a local hospital on March 28 "due to potential concerns regarding her pregnancy," according to the statement.
Circle Bear was released from the hospital the same day, but according to BOP, she began to show signs that she had been infected by the novel coronavirus, including a fever, dry cough, and other symptoms.
On March 31, she was taken back to the local hospital and placed on a ventilator.
The following day, officials said she underwent a cesarean section and gave birth. According to court records, her pregnancy was expected to end in May. The sex of the baby was not specified.
Circle Bear spent four weeks at the hospital being treated but was pronounced dead on April 28.
As of Wednesday, federal prison officials have seen 1,534 inmates test positive for COVID-19 across the country. A total of 335 employees have also tested positive for the virus.
Thirty-one federal inmates have died in custody.