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Sixth Alabama inmate, 16th prison worker tests positive for COVID-19

A sixth inmate in Alabama prisons has tested positive for COVID-19, and three more prison workers as well, the Alabama Department of Corrections said Friday evening. 

A man serving at Easterling Correctional Facility in Clio tested positive at a local hospital where he was being treated for “advanced, non-COVID-19 related medical conditions that were considered critical prior to his COVID-19 diagnosis,” ADOC said in a statement. 

The man was the second state inmate to have tested positive for COVID-19 who was being treated for another condition before contracting the virus.  

An inmate at the Bibb Correctional Institution tested positive for coronavirus at a local hospital, where he is being treated for a separate medical condition, ADOC said in a press release Thursday. 

Alabama legal experts and former law enforcement officers in March asked ADOC and the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles to release very ill and older inmates who are at greater risk of serious sickness and death from COVID-19. There’s been no public discussion of doing so by either agency, however. Alabama prisons were at 170 percent capacity in January, according to ADOC.

“The Board of Pardons and Paroles has the authority to use ‘medical parole’ to release such inmates…and the DOC has the authority to use ‘medical furlough’ likewise,” Heather Elliott, a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law, told APR in March. “Moreover, Governor Ivey has the authority to order both the Department and the Board to assist her in addressing the state of emergency she has declared over the coronavirus outbreak.”

The dorm at Easterling where the man was housed has been placed on level-one quarantine, meaning inmates in the dorm will be monitored for symptoms and have their checked for temperatures checked twice daily, according to the statement. 

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In addition to the inmate, two employees at Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton and another worker at the Alex City Community Based Facility/Community Work Center in Alex City also tested positive for the virus, according to the statement. All three workers have self-quarantined, ADOC said. 

“The ADOC’s Office of Health Services (OHS) immediately initiated an investigation to determine which, if any, ADOC inmates or employees may have had direct, prolonged exposure to these three (3) staff members,” the statement reads. “Upon completing the appropriate follow-up interviews and due diligence, OHS will advise any exposed staff members to contact their healthcare provider and self-quarantine for the recommended 14-day period or as advised by their healthcare provider.” 

In total, 16 ADOC workers at 10 facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, four of whom have been cleared by doctors to return to work, ADOC said. 

Dave Thomas, 66, a terminally ill man serving at St. Clair Correctional Facility, died April 16 after testing positive for coronavirus.

As of Friday, there have been confirmed COVID-19 cases among inmates at Bibb Correctional Facility, St. Clair Correctional facility, Easterling Correctional Facility, Bullock Correctional Facility and Elba Correctional Facility.


Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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