An overcrowded county jail is now one of Oklahoma’s largest COVID-19 hotspots.
The Comanche County Health Department said 128 inmates and 17 employees have tested positive at the county’s detention facility with 60 to 70 tests pending.
The jail is 22% over capacity with 345 inmates as of Monday, in a facility built to hold 283 people.
A county commissioner who over sees the jail asked Gov. Kevin Stitt and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to intervene.
"We were not equipped to deal with this pandemic,” Comanche County Commissioner Johnny Owens said in a statement.
County commissioners voted Wednesday morning to send non-infected inmates who test negative twice to a Department of Corrections facility is Sayre.
More than two dozen state corrections employees are on the ground in Lawton cleaning, assisting in jail operations, and helping non-positive inmates escape to North Folk Correctional Center two hours away.
Owens said the help has been a godsend.
“We reached out to the state for help and have received an incredible response from people who jumped right in, working alongside jail administrators and employees to turn this around,” he said.
The DOC said they expect state employees will remain in Lawton for around two weeks.