When COVID-19 invaded the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, officials took action, and it looks as if what they're doing is working.

Bobby Cleveland, executive director of Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, said when he visited the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester recently, employees were complimentary of the agency’s approach.

“They’re really doing a pretty good job with it,” he said. “I think they’re doing about as good as they could do under the circumstance. They’re trying to keep it under control. It’s so hard to do when you’re in such a confined area.”

In all, 328 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 at the time of the report Oct. 28. The week of Oct. 18-24, there were 292 positives inmate cases, corrections officials reported.

As of earlier this week, DOC records showed 79 inmates currently were positive. That’s down from the system-wide high of 939 positive inmates in mid-September.

Inmate movement has been restricted during outbreaks in units, and employees are undergoing daily health screenings and temperature checks.

Justin Wolf, a spokesman for the agency, said visitation and volunteer programs remain shuttered.

DOC officials are doing something right to get their numbers down. It has to be very difficult for inmates to go without visitors, but if it saves lives, it is worth the effort. People can't be complacent when it comes to the coronavirus. But the Department of Corrections has proven that COVID-19 numbers can be lowered using the proper precautions.

— Muskogee Phoenix

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