A 30-year-old woman who was serving a 26-month prison sentence for maintaining a drug-involved premise passed away from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) weeks after giving birth while on a ventilator, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
Andrea Circle Bear, who had a preexisting medical condition, died on Tuesday after contracting the highly contagious virus, the federal agency said in a news release.
Circle Bear was transported from the Winner City Jail in South Dakota to FMC Carswell in Forth Worth, Texas, on March 20 for undisclosed reasons, where she was immediately placed in quarantine as required for all new inmates entering the federal system.
Eight days after she was placed in the federal medical center, Circle Bear was taken to a local hospital for evaluation over concerns regarding her pregnancy. She was discharged on the same day and returned to FMC Carswell.
Officials said Circle Bear exhibited a fever, dry cough and other coronavirus-like symptoms on March 31. After she was seen by federal health service staff, she was transported to a hospital for further treatment and placed on a ventilator.
The next day, Circle Bear gave birth by cesarean section. She tested positive for COVID-19 on April 4, according to officials.
A spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons told PEOPLE that Circle Bear's baby survived the birth. A relative confirmed to the Washington Post that the newborn — a baby girl — has been returned to family in South Dakota.
Circle Bear appears to be the first woman in federal custody to die from coronavirus. According to the Bureau of Prisons, there are at least 1,534 federal inmates and 343 bureau staff who have confirmed positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, with 31 federal inmate having died from coronavirus-related illness.
In the United States, there have been at least 1,038,569 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 60,407 deaths as of April 29.
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