Saturday, September 5, 2020, an inmate passed away at a hospital where she was admitted for symptoms associated with COVID-19.
Due to several health issues, the medical examiner’s office will review all underlying medical facts and conditions to determine if COVID-19 was a significant factor in her death. Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC) respects HIPAA as well as the family’s right to privacy and will maintain the confidentiality of the inmate’s health records. The middle-aged woman was housed at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center (EWCC) serving sentences on 85% crimes when she became ill. Her earliest possible release date was May 2021.
To date, ODOC has received no death reports from the medical examiner’s office citing death due to COVID-19.
EWCC is one of several facilities ODOC has declared a hot spot for COVID-19.
Declaring a hot spot initiates increased response protocols including providing additional PPE to staff, closing visitation and volunteer access, shifting work stations within the facility to prevent further spread of the virus, and testing all facility inmates. Staff are also offered tests.
Once test results identify infected inmates, staff isolate them from those who tested negative or results are pending, complete contact tracing to locate additional exposures and test those identified. Nurses conduct health assessments on all positive inmates every day to ensure they receive proper care. Nurses also closely watch negative and pending inmates for any virus symptoms.
ODOC is also implementing hot spot protocols at Joseph Harp Correctional Center and Mabel Bassett Correctional Center.
With each positive COVID-19 test, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) and ODOC collaborate to ensure the agency complies with evolving best practices as well as Centers for Disease Control and OSDH recommendations during this pandemic.
Since mid-March, ODOC has practiced numerous measures to ensure the health of inmates and staff including mandating all wear masks. ODOC provides those masks to every inmate and staff member, as well as hand sanitizer, soap, and disinfecting products. The agency also uses portable foggers to clean all housing units, dining rooms, and other frequently used areas. Facilities have implemented clean teams to disinfect frequently-touched surfaces such as door knobs and light switches. All staff also undergo a health-screening process prior to entering the facility. If a staff member’s temperature is 100.4 or above or indicates presence of any other virus symptoms, they are asked to leave and contact their health care provider.