COVD-19 cases double in Alabama prisons over past two weeks

Alabama News
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The Alabama Department of Corrections reported it’s fourth inmate death related to COVID-19 as the state saw the highest two-week increase of cases since the pandemic began.

Those cases are also increasing in Alabama’s prisons as well. COVID-19 cases among prison staff have nearly doubled in the past two weeks.

June 2nd, 68 total staff members had self reported a COVD-19 diagnosis according to an ADOC press release. 19 inmates had tested positive at that time.

Tuesday evening, ADOC’s COVID-19 dashboard showed 131 staff members have self reported a COVD-19 diagnoses. 43 inmates have tested positive as of June 15th. Four have died.

At the Limestone County Facility, 11 inmates have been tested. Zero were positive. Two staff members have self reported a positive test result. One has recovered.

ADOC released a statement Monday saying 80 year-old inmate, Robert Stewart, who was serving a life sentence for murder, died after testing positive for COVID-19. Before being moved to an area hospital, he was treated in the Staton Correctional Facility’s infirmary. 13 inmates in that infirmary later tested positive for coronavirus.

Health officials across the state are noting the increase in cases from Madison County to Jefferson County.

“The positive or at least the discovered cases are on a rapid rise,” said Pam Hudson, Crestwood Hospital CEO.

“Everyone needs to assume that they could have contacted the virus and that they could be spreading it even if they don’t have symptoms,” said Dr. Mark Wilson with the Jefferson County Health Department.

According to updates released on ADOC’s website, when a guard self reports a positive COVD-19 test result, AODC conducts an investigation to see if any inmates or staff have come into close contact with them. If staff members have they must contact their healthcare providers and self-quarantine.

In March, ADOC stopped allowing visitors in facilities, inmates were given masks and the agency worked to increase the availability of hygiene 

In April, ADOC began a quarantine pilot program for new intakes at the Draper and Tutwiler facilities.

Last month, infrared cameras were installed across ADOC’s facilities to detect if people coming in and out have a temperature above 100 degrees.

Despite these efforts, ADOC case numbers are following the trend observed by the rest of the state.

256 inmates have been tested for COVID-19. ADOC reported there were more than 21,000 in their custody in January. That means a little over one percent of the total inmate population has been tested for coronavirus;