Oklahoma Department Of Corrections Makes Changes For Pandemic

Wednesday, April 8th 2020, 1:55 pm
By: Caleigh Bourgeois

Oklahoma Department of Corrections officials are taking steps to be cautious during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Tuesday, officials with ODOC confirmed five staff members and one inmate have tested positive for the virus.

Officials with the department said they’re working closely with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, and have released a 34-page pandemic planning guide online.

“We’re taking very strident decisive action to protect the people who are under our care,” Matt Elliott, public information manager with the Department of Corrections said.

Elliott said inmates at each facility are now secured in their cells, with food and medicine being delivered.

Schedules for activities like phone calls and showering have been shifted to promote social distancing.

“This is not a disciplinary measure, what we’re doing. This is something to keep them safe,” Elliott said.

There are also precautions to keep the staff safe.

Officials said every staff member has their health checked upon arriving for each shift.

“Any staff member who arrives to work at a facility, they get their temperature taken immediately, and they also have to complete a health questionnaire,” Elliott said.

Every staff member and inmate received a mask and other personal protective equipment (PPE) over the weekend, and inmates are working to make more.

ODOC officials are allowing each inmate up to 10 minutes of free phone calls each week, as visitations are currently not taking place.

“We’re also looking at what sort of privileges we can bring back that will lessen the strain on our inmates and our staff, because this is an incredibly stressful time for staff while inmates are locked down like this,” Elliott said.