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Federal prisons confirm first staff death linked to coronavirus

Prison in the time of coronavirus
Prison in the time of coronavirus 07:35

A federal prison employee who died earlier this week has tested positive for the new coronavirus, the Bureau of Prisons announced Friday. The bureau said the staffer is the "first potential" staff death due to COVID-19.

Robin Grubbs, a 39-year-old case manager at the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta, was found dead in her home Tuesday and posthumously tested positive for the virus, a bureau spokesperson said in a statement.

Grubbs' last day working at the facility was Friday, April 10. She was screened prior to entry and determined to be asymptomatic, the spokesperson said.

Four Atlanta employees told CBS News that Grubb's office was located in the prison's "Baker 3" unit, a previously empty area where officials began housing inmates who were sick or exposed to the coronavirus. As of Friday, eight inmates and three staffers have tested positive for the virus, according to the bureau.

Two colleagues said their last conversation with Grubbs was to congratulate her on a recent promotion, a position that would have moved her to a different office in a separate building from Baker 3.

Robin Grubbs Prison Coronavirus Death
Robin Grubbs Robin Grubbs/Facebook

"Robin was a dedicated employee whose efforts sought to improve the lives of inmates and her fellow staff. She was promoting into a new reentry role in the agency which would have prepared her for future leadership opportunities. Robin will be sorely missed by her Bureau family," William Woods, the prison's warden, wrote in a statement.

Her colleagues remember Grubbs as an Army veteran, a diehard Atlanta Falcons fan and a hard worker. They said she loved traveling and trying new restaurants — especially seafood — and was close with her parents and brother.

On April 10, she posted a video of her parents after they had dropped off a "Corona Care Package" filled with cough medicine, ginger ale and hand sanitizer. She wrote, "Airhugs because Corona is everywhere at this point... How did I get so lucky?"

The bureau said 465 federal inmates and 296 staffers have tested positive for COVID-19 nationwide, and 18 inmates have died.

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