Andrea Circle Bear – Gone but not forgotten online
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Andrea Circle Bear

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She was 7 months pregnant, sick, scared, and in prison. The cough and fever wouldn't subside, so federal prison officials took Andrea Circle Bear to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, where doctors told her she had pneumonia. There, doctors let her call her grandmother, Clara LaBeau, one last time. "I prayed with her, and we said our goodbyes," LaBeau, a South Dakota resident, told BuzzFeed News. "We loved each other, and she said to tell her children that she loved them and that was the last time I talked to her." That same day on March 31, prison officials said Circle Bear was placed on a ventilator. Four weeks later, on April 28, she died from COVID-19. If doctors or prison officials suspected Circle Bear had been infected with the novel coronavirus, the 30-year-old did not tell her grandmother during that last phone call. She had stood out in the cold, with no jackets or coverings, on March 20 when she was transferred from Winner City Jail in South Dakota to FMC Carswell in Texas, so she told her grandmother she must have developed the illness then. Circle Bear also didn't mention any plans to give birth early, but the following day, her daughter was born by Cesarean section. "I was not thinking she was going to deliver because she was admitted for pneumonia," LaBeau said. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Circle Bear was confirmed to be positive for COVID-19 on April 4, four days after she had been placed on a ventilator. As of Thursday, 2,820 inmates in federal custody have tested positive for COVID-19. But Circle Bear's coronavirus-related death is the first for a woman federal inmate. Officials said the 30-year-old had been considered "high risk" because of a preexisting medical condition, but LaBeau said she is not sure what the condition was.