There are around 800 inmates at Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility in Taft. Of those, 785 are in “quarantine,” although that doesn’t mean what one might think. The prison has an “open dorm” housing plan, meaning inmates don’t have cells to inhabit while distancing from other inmates.
That means inmates are crammed together during a quarantine in which 32 of them have positive test results and 13 staff members do. Inmates are only tested for the virus when staff members decide an inmate needs a test, so the number of actual infections at the prison may be much higher.
After being asked questions for this story, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections announced today — in Taft — that it is “ramping up” testing in “hot spot” facilities:
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC) takes a proactive approach to increasing COVID-19 cases. In coordination with the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), ODOC has designated Eddie Warrior Correctional Center (EWCC) a “hot spot” for COVID-19 after identifying a spike in the number of infected inmates. More than 800 female inmates live in open dorm units there, creating a contact tracing web.
Declaring a hot spot initiates increased response protocols including providing additional PPE to staff, closing visitation and volunteer access, and shifting work stations within the facility to prevent further spread of the virus.
Identifying dozens of positive inmates at EWCC last week prompted testing of all potentially exposed inmates this week. With hot spot protocols in place, ODOC awaits official test results as staff continues to provide core services to all inmates.
Once test results identify infected inmates, staff will isolate them and quarantine those exposed.
ODOC is also implementing hot spot protocols at Joseph Harp Correctional Center and Mabel Bassett Correctional Center. With each positive COVID-19 test, OSDH and ODOC collaborate to ensure the agency complies with evolving best practices during this pandemic.