Oklahoma Department of Corrections announced Friday it is deploying rapid response teams to facilities declared COVID-19 “hot spots.”
Within 24 hours of the designation, a team will meet with the facility warden and walk him through every step of the agency’s COVID-19 Hot Spot Action Plan.
Three facilities in Northwest Oklahoma have a large number of inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19.
William S. Key in Fort Supply shows 221 inmates currently positive for the coronavirus, along with seven staff members, according to numbers on the DOC website.
The facility reports 719 inmates in close-contact quarantine, and 217 in positive-case isolation.
Four inmates are hospitalized, according to DOC, and 21 have recovered. Four staff members have recovered.
Bill Johnson Correctional Center in Alva reports 52 positive cases among inmates, along with two staff members, according to DOC. Those 52 inmates are listed as being in isolation.
Eleven inmates are in quarantine, and three inmates are listed as recovered.
Enid Community Correctional Center reports 30 inmates as positive for COVID-19, according to DOC, with 30 listed as being in isolation.
The facility lists 43 inmates being in quarantine, and seven as recovered.
James Crabtree Correctional Center in Helena reports no current cases, and three inmates who have recovered from the coronavirus.
Members of DOC’s rapid response teams include ODOC correctional officers who worked inside Comanche County Jail early in the pandemic and learned, first-hand, best practices to cease the spread of the virus. These officers also will deliver additional PPE kits for staff, sanitation supplies and an additional fogger.
Officers ensure the facility follows a sanitation schedule and documents temperatures inside housing units without air conditioning. The team also includes a representative from food services to assist with the inmates’ nutritional needs and agency experts in environmental health and safety, human resources and medical services. Each team member helps the warden identify resources needed to quickly attack the virus.
“While we are taking many proactive steps to limit the spread of this virus in our facilities, we also continue to respond swiftly to hot spots that develop,” said DOC Director Scott Crow. “Our plans continue to evolve and improve as we learn more, and we are committed to providing safe environments and appropriate medical care for our inmates.”
Several weeks ago, ODOC medical staff developed a plan to identify hot spots within facilities. The plan sets forth specific criteria. A facility or specific unit within a facility is automatically designated a hot spot when at least 20% of inmates test positive within a celled housing unit or at least 15% of inmates test positive within an open bay housing unit, according to DOC. In situations with fewer positive cases, medical staff will consider other factors, such as the medical acuity level of the unit, the known vulnerability of the population, the number of staff positives and any other factors that increase the risk of infection and spread.
The medical decision to declare a hot spot triggers a number of steps to contain the virus, including ceasing visitation, testing all inmates in the hot spot area, quarantining/isolating those positive and those exposed, moving staff work locations to other areas of the facility and providing additional PPE kits for staff, according to DOC. Medical staff also increases monitoring of all the inmates in that hot area, ensuring medical responses. They also determine if an inmate requires transport to a local hospital for care beyond the facility’s capacity.
To release a facility or unit from hot spot status, ODOC medical staff will evaluate the number of positive test results, the number of inmates in quarantine and/or isolation, and the medical acuity of inmates at the location.
As of Friday, nearly 900 inmates are listed as currently COVID-19 positive — 4% of DOC’s current incarcerated population. Five inmates have died possibly due to COVID-19. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine cause of death.