Protesters demand change as COVID-19 continues to spread at Oklahoma correctional facility

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TAFT, Okla. (KFOR) – Protesters headed to an Oklahoma correctional center on Labor Day to demand better treatment for inmates with COVID-19.

Last week, KFOR learned that more than half of the inmates housed at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Out of 802 inmates, 721 have tested positive for COVID-19, according to data released by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

“Everybody is sick. They’re all intermingling. There’s not really any quarantining because everybody has it,” Kendra Stephens, who has several friends incarcerated at Eddie Warrior, said. “None of them were given the death penalty for their crimes and they shouldn’t have to be on death row basically.”

“They have them all mixed in together. Some of them that has positive and some that has negative,” Kayla Hicks said. “It’s pretty alarming. It’s pretty scary.” ​

On Monday, several protesters gathered to rally in front of Eddie Warrior Correctional Center.

According to KJRH, the group wore orange shirts and demanded that prison officials improve the treatment of inmates who have COVID-19.

Now, some city leaders are concerned that if the problem continues to get worse at the facility, it could affect residents in Muskogee County.

Officials with ODOC did not respond to KFOR’s requests for comment on Sept. 3 but told News 4 a few weeks ago that quarantine and isolation are central to the department’s COVID-19 response. 

ODOC released this statement back on August 22nd, saying: 

“The department has gone to great lengths to combat the pandemic, including screening all staff members before every shift; providing masks to all inmates, staff, and visitors; deploying inmate clean teams; limiting transfers and movement of inmates; and ensuring all inmates have access to proper sanitation and hygiene products.”

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