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COVID-19 Cases Skyrocket Inside Several Oklahoma Prisons

Oklahoma Department of Corrections
An inmate at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft, Okla. sews masks in April 2020.

There were at least 504 COVID-19 cases inside just one state prison on Friday, with nearly 900 prisoners across the state infected with the disease and hundreds of test results are still pending.

COVID cases have skyrocketed at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center – a women’s prison in Taft. The prison has open dorms which Department of Corrections spokesperson Justin Wolf says has greatly contributed to the spread.

"It provides different challenges and different exposure levels between the inmates," Wolf said.

COVID cases are also growing inside the state’s largest women’s prison, Mabel Bassett, and inside Joseph Harp Correctional Center – a facility that houses many of the state’s mentally ill prisoners. The three prisons have been designated COVID hot spots.

There have been at least 1,250 COVID cases among state prisoners since the beginning of the pandemic. The Department of Corrections reports at least 366 prisoners have recovered from the disease.

The corrections agency’s COVID testing policies remain largely unchanged. The agency is still coordinating with the State Department of Health to determine which prisoners should be tested.

Quinton Chandler worked at StateImpact Oklahoma from January 2018 to August 2021, focusing on criminal justice reporting.
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