Name: K. D.
Died: April 23, 2020.
Age at death: 30.
Cause of death: Medical neglect.
Location: Forest Hills, Queens, New York City, New York, USA.
K. D. was a Filipino-American inmate at Rikers Island, having violated his probation for possession of child porn. Before he was imprisoned, he lived with his mother, father, and younger sister. He had autism, depression, and an anxiety disorder, as well as asthma, gout, and sleep apnea. In prison, he had to go into protective custody because, due to his charges, he was in danger of violence from other inmates. He was placed in a medical unit so that he could have access to his CPAP machine, a non-invasive ventilator that keeps sleep apnea patients breathing during the night.
K.D. began having symptoms of COVID and tested positive, but the 39-bed medical dorm he was housed in for the first six days after his diagnosis, and which was more than half full, was not a COVID ward. From this we can conclude that staff did not particularly care whether their prisoners spread COVID to one another.
Despite the fact that K.D. had asthma and sleep apnea staff took away his CPAP machine and would not give him nebulizer treatments. Their rationale was that these could spread COVID. (See above: They also put infected patients in the same ward with non-infected patients, making it doubtful that their main motivation was to slow the spread of COVID.)
K.D. had trouble getting the simplest of medical treatments, reporting to his mother that he couldn’t even get Tylenol for his fever. They also did not tell K.D. that he had COVID for two days after he was diagnosed. Only when he went into respiratory distress was he taken to Bellevue Hospital.
At Bellevue, K.D. was finally allowed his nebulizer treatments and CPAP, but his health declined steadily. He was able to talk to his mother on the phone, who began advocating for him to be granted compassionate release. But by the time a formal hearing was convened, K.D. was already on a ventilator and could not be moved. About two weeks later, he died from COVID at the age of 30.