500 Women in Federal Prison Test Positive for COVID-19

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More than 500 women at a federal medical prison in Texas have tested positive for the coronavirus, in one of the largest confirmed outbreaks at a federal prison, reports the Associated Press. The number of confirmed cases at the Federal Medical Center-Carswell in Fort Worth jumped to 510 on Tuesday, two days after the Bureau of Prisons reported that 200 women there had tested positive for COVID-19. Only the federal prison in Seagoville, also in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, had more infected inmates, with 1,156 cases. “We’re like a whole bunch of hamsters in a cage chasing our own tails,” said Carswell inmate Holli Chapman.

Three weeks ago, the prison had reported only three confirmed cases of the virus. One prisoner, Andrea Circle Bear, died in April. On July 12, 69-year-old Sandra Kincaid became the second woman to die there from the virus. The third, 51-year-old Teresa Ely, died Monday. FMC-Carswell holds 1,357 female inmates with medical and mental health issues. One inmate who has tested positive is Reality Winner, a former government contractor who is serving a five-year prison sentence for mailing a classified report to a news organization. Last week, several women at Carswell said the facility did not have enough sanitizing supplies or protective equipment. The women noted that cells are not immediately cleaned after someone tests positive. Inmate Sandra Shoulders said, “We feel basically abandoned. [Officers] are saying they’re doing all this stuff for us, that they’re in here with us. But they’re not the ones in 24-hour quarantine, left in a 6-by-6 cell with three other people with 10 minute showers.”

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