Inmates Warned of Alarming Conditions. Now, an Outbreak

More than 500 test positive for COVID-19 at Texas federal medical prison
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 22, 2020 6:34 AM CDT
At One Women's Prison, COVID Runs Rampant
This January 2016 photo shows Federal Medical Center-Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.   (Wikimedia/Federal Bureau of Prisons)

More than 500 women at a federal medical prison in Texas have tested positive for the coronavirus, in one of the largest confirmed outbreaks at a federal prison, the Bureau of Prisons said. The number of confirmed cases at the Federal Medical Center-Carswell in Fort Worth jumped to 510 on Tuesday, just two days after the Bureau of Prisons reported that 200 women there had tested positive for COVID-19, reports the AP. Three weeks ago, the prison had reported only three confirmed cases of the virus among inmates. One prisoner, Andrea Circle Bear, died in April. On July 12, 69-year-old Sandra Kincaid became the second woman to die there from the virus. The third, 51-year-old Teresa Ely, died Monday. One of the inmates who has tested positive is Reality Winner, a former government contractor serving a five-year sentence for mailing a classified report to a news organization.

FMC-Carswell holds female inmates with medical and mental health issues. It currently has 1,357 prisoners. Since April, many inmates have told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that they were concerned the virus could spread through the prison. Last week, several women at Carswell said the facility did not have enough sanitizing supplies or protective equipment. The women also noted that cells are not immediately cleaned after someone tests positive. Inmate Sandra Shoulders said mattresses used by women who have tested positive are piled up in a TV room. "We feel basically abandoned," she said. "As with any type of emergency situation, we carefully assess how to best ensure the safety of staff, inmates and the public,” the Bureau of Prisons said. "All of our facilities are implementing the BOP’s guidance on mitigating the spread of COVID-19."

(More coronavirus stories.)

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