Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility in Taft, just west of Muskogee, now has 637 active cases of COVID-19, exposing the inmates, staff and community at large to risk of infection.
Workers at the prison, all of whom asked to be not named for fear of reprisals, say the Oklahoma Department of Corrections is directly responsible for the huge outbreak at the prison, which houses about 800 prisoners in open-dorm type rooms.
MuskogeeNOW reported last week that there were huge numbers of uncounted cases at the prison, and the next day, DOC officials announced new testing and 400-odd cases of COVID. The number of infections took a dramatic leap last Monday, workers report, from zero cases to the current number. July 27, inmates began streaming into the prison, they say, after DOC waived COVID testing for transfers into minimum security prisons like Eddie Warrior.
Seventy-nine inmates came in that day, then, DOC told workers that 150 more inmates needed to be “fast tracked” within the next week because of a backlog of inmates waiting in county facilities all over the state. Fast-tracking, according to the workers, included waiving testing requirements.
On Aug. 6, another busload of inmates — dozens of whom were untested — were brought into the prison. Aug. 10, another 50. On Aug. 14, inmates from a facility known to be experiencing an outbreak were transferred to Eddie Warrior with no quarantine and no testing, according to workers. The inmates were placed into general population.
“They’re just inmates, right?” one worker said yesterday. “They forget us employees are also there and we have families.”
One worker with an at-risk child said they have to stay away from their child because of the outbreak.
“They couldn’t care less about our families,” the worker said. “They don’t care about the inmates, either. No matter what they’ve done, they are still human beings, and they deserve better.”