Former Mabel Bassett inmate speaks about COVID-19 response inside the correctional center


McLOUD, Okla. (KFOR) — A woman who was recently released from Mabel Bassett Correctional Center told KFOR a big reason for the outbreak back in August was due to inmates refusing to wear masks and social distance.

“I got people calling me from in there, crying about this and that, and I’m like, ‘Well, that’s kind of what y’all get,’” Barbara Grimm told KFOR.

Grimm, who was released from Mabel Bassett Correctional Center back on July 29th, said many of the inmates are not following social distancing guidelines or wearing their masks.

“Immediately after I got out, within a couple of weeks, it started spreading like wildfire,” Grimm said.

In mid-August, after four inmates tested positive for COVID-19, an additional 184 inmates were tested and 100 of them tested positive.

“Most of the women that do got it, it’s because they won’t follow the rules,” said Grimm. “I knew it was going to happen.”

The numbers have since gone down, with only 18 positive cases as of Tuesday and 200 inmates now recovered from the virus.

Over at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft, that prison has seen the largest outbreak of the virus within ODOC so far, with 708 prisoners currently battling the virus.

ODOC director Scott Crow told KFOR on Wednesday what Grimm has witnessed at Mabel Bassett has been a problem within all of their prisons.

“Enforcing the wearing of the mask becomes a real challenge both with staff and inmates,” Crow said.

He said those who refuse to wear one are issued misconduct and isolated from the other inmates.

“One of the things that I did very early on was create a team of staff here at DOC that actually monitors all of our facilities daily, remotely through our video systems to see who is and isn’t wearing a mask,” Crow said.

“Nobody was prepared for this, but I feel like they’re doing the best that they can,” Grimm said.

As of Tuesday, a total of 1,617 ODOC inmates statewide have now tested positive for the virus.

Continued Coronavirus Coverage


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