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Death certificate states Piedmont Correctional officer died from COVID-19 complications

By Shavonne Potts
shavonne.potts@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — A senior correctional officer with Salisbury’s Piedmont Correctional Institute died in late October from complications of COVID-19, according to his death certificate.

Michael Robert Flagg, 58, who began as a correctional officer with the prison in 1992, had been a sergeant since 1996 and worked in both Mecklenburg and Rowan counties since that time.

The immediate cause of death, according to his death certificate, was PEA or pulseless electrical activity, which refers to cardiac arrest. The underlying cause of death was COVID-19.

The certificate, which the Post obtained by requesting it from the Mecklenburg County Office of Vital Records, explains that the underlying cause is any disease or injury that initiated the events resulting in death. He died at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte.

The Post reached out to Flagg’s daughter, Jennifer Ridenhour, who declined to comment. The Post also requested comments from the N.C. Department of Public Safety to confirm Flagg’s employment and cause of death.

“Under state law and federal law, I cannot comment on a staff member’s medical issues. That would include whether an individual tested positive for COVID-19,” said prison spokesman John Bull.

The prison system updates data online about offenders who test positive for COVID-19 or die, but it has not released data about employee positives. Prior to Flagg’s death, a number of inmates at the prison reached out to the Post regarding what they believed to be a larger number of inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 than what the prison had reported.

As of Wednesday, the N.C. Department of Public Safety reports 256 total positives at the prison and 32 active cases. There are no deaths reported at Piedmont Correctional facility among offenders.

Bull said, in general, appropriate notifications are made if a staff member tests positive for COVID-19 and properly notifies the agency.

He said staff are required to report positive results of a COVID-19 test and are sent home and not permitted to return to work until they meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for resolution and are no longer infectious.

Flagg, who resided in Kannapolis, was a U.S. Air Force veteran who worked as a security policeman in the service. In addition to his daughter, he leaves behind his father, grandchildren, and his sisters.

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