Almost 900 of the inmates at Jess Dunn Correctional Center in Taft are being “quarantined” together in open dorm-style housing after they were found to be in close contact with at least one of the facility’s current 21 inmates who tested positive for Covid-19.
The facility houses 1,115 inmates, leaving 201 not quarantined, according to the Department of Corrections spokesman Justin Wolfe.
A worker at the prison said the Muskogee County Health Department is going there today to test more than 200 inmates in one “quarantined” housing unit that has experienced a surge in positive tests, but the health department, citing HIPAA laws against identifying potential clients.
Asked how grouping exposed inmates into open-dorm housing together counted as quarantining, Wolfe replied that he didn’t know.
“We have a lot of facilities, some have pods with 40 inmates, some have open-dorm,” he said. “We answer these questions every day, so forgive me if I sound tired of repeating it.”
Asked whether it might not be safer to test all the 1,115 inmates and head the virus off at the pass, he replied, “We work with the health departments to determine who gets tested.”
Meanwhile, 893 inmates wait together in undivided dorms until they become symptomatic before they can get testing to see if they have contracted the virus.
Another Taft prison, Eddie Warrior, more than doubled Muskogee County’s virus totals after around 700 inmates contracted the virus before DOC decided to implement mass testing at that facility.