Rodney Myers, warden of a federal prison in Oakdale, La., which has been hit hard by the coronavirus, has been reassigned amid growing criticism of his response to the pandemic, reports the Wall Street Journal. Myers is on a temporary duty assignment at the Bureau of Prisons’ South Central Regional Office. The move comes after prison union leaders filed complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration accusing Myers of failing to notify employees or provide them with protective masks and other equipment after learning that dozens of prisoners had tested positive for COVID-19. Union officials said the warden didn’t isolate prisoners after positive results, moving them only after being confronted by employees. Myers’ “continued negligence and endangering of staff and inmates was creating a more difficult situation to control the spread of COVID-19,” said corrections workers union president Ronald Morris.
Last month, the facility 200 miles west of New Orleans was struggling to isolate, quarantine and test inmates even as more of them became sick and began to die. On Friday, the Bureau of Prisons said 91 inmates had tested positive for the coronavirus, not including another 87 who it says have recovered. At least eight employees also have been infected, and 10 have recovered. The agency said seven Oakdale inmates have died from the virus. Union officials believe the numbers are higher. At least 59 inmates have died throughout the federal system. The bureau said it would move 6,800 inmates who have been held in local detention centers across the U.S. to federal prisons. All will be held at “quarantine sites” where they will be tested both upon arrival and again before being moved to the prison where they will serve their sentence.