DOC Working To Contain COVID-19 Inside State’s Prison System

Wednesday, September 9th 2020, 6:15 pm
By: Jonathan Cooper

The Department of Corrections said more than 1,600 prisoners have now tested positive for COVID-19 statewide, and many have been asymptomatic.

The DOC held its first meeting Wednesday since the major outbreak at Eddie Warrior Prison in Muskogee County and provided an update on how they’re working to keep prisoners safe.

Related Story: Inmate At Correctional Center Dies After Hospitalization; COVID-19 Outbreak Continues

"We have continued our pandemic testing protocols," said Millicent Newton-Embry, the offender services director for DOC.

The regularly scheduled board meeting comes as the department is dealing with several COVID-19 hotspots at their facilities throughout the state.

More than 700 prisoners at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility in Taft who have tested positive, many of which are asymptomatic. The department said one woman there died over the weekend after showing symptoms.

"We've worked hand and hand with our partners in the health department in every community," said Newton-Embry.

Newton-Embry said they've been working with health officials and the state every day and are currently reviewing protocols and pandemic plans at Eddie Warrior.

In addition to the hotspot there, the department has also identified smaller hot spots in other facilities like the Joseph Harp Correctional Facility and Mabel-Bassett.

"Each facility has emergency plans and pandemic plans to review," she said.

Newton-Embry said they've performed more than 10,800 tests among inmates this year, with 1,617 coming back positive.

They also have had 215 known positive cases among their staff.

They're now working with health officials to isolate those who test positive and determine where and how the virus is spreading. The state said about 93% of inmates who have tested positive are asymptomatic and have not shown symptoms.

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