The Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) on Monday, Sept. 7, announced that Charles R.J. Patterson of Frankford, a 55 year-old inmate at Sussex Correctional Institution who had underlying health conditions, had died that day at Bayhealth Hospital’s Kent Campus, from complications from COPD, diabetes, hypertension and COVID-19.

Officials said Patterson was initially tested for COVID-19 on July 6 and had tested positive as DOC administered testing of all SCI inmates as part of its aggressive COVID-19 mitigation efforts after a cluster of cases was identified through proactive monitoring and testing. After his positive COVID-19 test result was returned, Patterson was transferred to the JTVCC COVID-19 Treatment Center.

As symptoms developed, they said, he was admitted to Bayhealth Hospital’s Kent Campus for treatment on July 12, where his family has been engaged in treatment decision-making. As Patterson’s condition continued to deteriorate, he was placed on comfort care. He was pronounced dead by hospital staff at 8:11 a.m. on Sept. 7.

Patterson’s body was released to the Delaware Division of Forensic Science to determine his cause of death.

Patterson had been in DOC custody since 2016 and was serving a six-year sentence for his 7th Offense DUI conviction.

Patterson was the only SCI inmate who still had an active COVID-19 infection. Meanwhile, 378 SCI inmates who contracted COVID-19 in July have been deemed recovered, meaning they have surpassed the CDC guidelines of exceeding 14 days without exhibiting any symptoms of illness. A total of four SCI inmates, including Patterson, and seven inmates from James T. Vaughn Correctional Center have died from complications from COVID-19 and other underlying conditions over the past five months.

All recovered inmates are receiving follow-up COVID-19 testing and must have two consecutive negative tests before returning to the general prison population.

Get updated information about the DOC’s response to COVID-19 and read previous announcements of positive COVID-19 cases by visiting