Mumia Abu-Jamal tests positive for COVID-19, lawyer says

Mumia Abu-Jamal has tested positive for COVID-19, according to one of his attorneys.

The state Department of Corrections informed Abu-Jamal’s counsel that Abu-Jamal tested positive for the virus early Wednesday, said Robert Boyle, one of his attorneys, during a telephone interview.

Boyle could not confirm additional details about Abu-Jamal’s condition or location inside Mahanoy State Correctional Institution in Frackville. But the attorney said he believed Abu-Jamal would be isolated from other inmates.

During a Center City rally Wednesday for the 66-year-old Abu-Jamal, supporter Johanna Fernandez said he has been experiencing chest pressure and labored breathing for at least a week.


Maria Bivens, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections, said in an email that, “Medical information about an inmate is not public information.”

At the Mahanoy correctional facility, eight inmates and four employees had active positive COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday, according to the state Department of Corrections website. Four inmates have died at the correctional facility.

At least one previous COVID-19 test conducted at the prison had come back negative, Fernandez said.

It was also revealed Wednesday that Abu-Jamal has congestive heart failure. He also has liver damage from hepatitis C and high blood pressure.

About a dozen supporters outside the district attorney’s office called for Abu-Jamal’s immediate release due to his pre-existing conditions and positive COVID-19 test.


“Mumia needs to be immediately released,” Fernandez said, adding: “Mumia has serious medical conditions that make him vulnerable to death.”

Suzanne Ross, a longtime supporter of Abu-Jamal, said in a telephone interview that the inmate should be transported immediately to a hospital where he can recover from COVID-19 and have his other health care issues monitored.

“The department of prisons is responsible for the people under their charge,” Ross said. “If there’s a treatment for a condition inmates have, they can’t be denied that treatment.”

Abu-Jamal, formerly known as Wesley Cook, was convicted of fatally shooting Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner after Faulkner had reportedly pulled over Abu-Jamal’s brother during a late-night traffic stop in 1981.

In prison since 1982, Abu-Jamal was on death row until 2011, when his death sentence was ruled unconstitutional. He is now serving a life sentence. Abu-Jamal and his supporters have always maintained his innocence, alleging that his trial was tainted by police corruption and racism.

Abu-Jamal is appealing his conviction in Pennsylvania courts. 215-893-5782


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