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The federal prison complex in Lompoc reported its second COVID-19 death Thursday. Jimmie Lee Houston, 75, tested positive for the virus on April 8 and, after his health quickly declined, was placed on a ventilator on April 11. He died May 6 at an undisclosed hospital in Santa Barbara County. Houston had long-term, preexisting medical conditions, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) said in a news release.
Houston had been in custody in Lompoc since February 2018. He’d been sentenced in Alaska to 10 years behind bars on drug and gun charges. A total of 42 BOP inmates have now died from COVID-19 while in custody.
The Lompoc prison complex recently completed construction on a 20-bed hospital unit to ease the growing strain on regional health centers as the number of infected inmates continues to rise. Santa Barbara officials reported Wednesday that 172 inmates and staff have now tested positive for the virus. Inmates and their families continue to criticize the BOP and Lompoc prison authorities for not acting quickly enough to contain the outbreak, which remains one of the worst in the country.
At the Santa Barbara Independent, our staff is working around the clock to cover every aspect of this crisis — sorting truth from rumor. Our reporters and editors are asking the tough questions of our public health officials and spreading the word about how we can all help one another. The community needs us — now more than ever — and we need you in order to keep doing the important work we do. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.