A COVID-19 outbreak at a local women's correctional center has inmate's family members wondering what the center is doing behind the barbed wire. More than 800 prisoners live in open dorm units at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center, and the Department of Corrections said nearly 60% have tested positive for COVID-19.
Deanna Ray is the mom of Hannah Ray who’s in prison at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Muskogee County. Hannah is one of 504 women who've contracted the virus.
"There's women in there that can't get out of bed, that's running a fever, that's coughing, that has chest pain," said Deanna Ray, mom of Hannah Ray.
The Department of Corrections told News On 6 that all potentially exposed prisoners are quarantined and tested. Those who test positive are then isolated, and the prisoners who come back negative restart their quarantine.
"There's sick people in the gym with no air conditioning, no phones, no showers,” said Alexandria Hagan, EWCC prisoner.
DOC said it's working closely with the Oklahoma Department of Health, providing additional PPE to staff, closing visitation and shifting workstations within the prison. Paiton Mills was released last year and said she's fighting for her friends from the outside.
"I know that a lot of the girls feel lonely, you know. and I know what that feels like,” said Mills. “And so, I'm passionate about making them feel like someone cares."
DOC said it’s focused on providing core services to women while they’re at the center.
"All inmates have been given all three meals a day,” said Justin Wolf, director of communications and government relations for the Department of Corrections. “Those are the inmates’ constitutional rights while they're in our custody and in our care, and we do everything possible to ensure that those core needs are met. They're still given access to medical care [and] to their medications. They have outdoor rec time. They have access to showers, to phone time, to the mail."
Ray said she's worried about cross-contamination and quality of life for her daughter who has been moved around multiple times over the past couple months. She said Hannah is her one and only child, and she misses here every day. Ray tells News On 6 that she has only talked to her daughter a couple times since COVID-19 struck the states.
"They deserve to have a chance at life and not die in prison away from their family members," said Ray.
Wolf said there are never more than 31 prisoners in the gym at one time and they check temperatures throughout the day.
For more information about the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center, click here.