Coronavirus is circulating in state prisons.
So far, five Department of Corrections employees and one prisoner have tested positive for Covid-19.
The agency broke the news on the positive prisoner test and four of its employees on Tuesday. One staff member who works at Joseph Harp Correctional Center tested positive last week.
The infected prisoner is incarcerated at Jackie Brannon Correctional Center in McAlester.
A Department of Corrections spokesperson refused to give the other four staff members’ work assignments. He said it would be a violation of medical privacy laws to provide additional details.
It’s also unclear where the prisoner and the five staff members are now.
The agency’s pandemic planning guide suggests prisoners who test positive will be isolated in cells, hospital or infirmary beds when necessary.
The plan says sick staff should be asked to isolate at home.
Prisons and other detention facilities that hold hundreds of people in enclosed spaces are perfect incubators for respiratory viruses, like the novel coronavirus.
Prisons across the country including in California, Louisiana and New York have reported coronavirus cases. An internal Alabama Department of Corrections document estimated the prison system could in a worst-case scenario experience close to 200 deaths from the virus.
New York, one of the hardest hit states has reported nearly 400 cases.
Five prisoners ran away from Jackie Brannon on Sunday. Four were recaptured and quarantined, one is still missing.