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Concern for the spread of COVID-19 in prisons grow

According to East Tennessee Region Public Information Officer Robert Reburn, there are three inmates at BCCX ( at the time of writing this story) who are currently in quarantine as a result of possible exposure to COVID-19 from a non-state employee
who tested positive. 
Submitted photo

By Tamas Mondovics
Editor

“Inmates are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, uncles and aunts, cousins, husbands, and wives. They’re real people, many incarcerated for non-violent crimes,” said Karen (did not want to use her last name), who is concerned about her family member in an environment that is just about one of the most conducive to the spread of COVID-19.

Karen said she is concerned as “it seems all populations are being cared for in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but no one is actively taking measures to protect inmates. Instead, there is only talk and delays in making plans.”

Advocacy groups, including the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, have reportedly petitioned the Tennessee Supreme Court to release eligible inmates – as defined by their list – to be released.

“But nothing is happening,” Karen said, adding that prison inmates need help. “COVID-19 has already affected South Central, and Bledsoe Correctional Complexes in Tennessee and the Knox County sheriff said it will spread like fire through a hay barn if it gets in jail.”

According to East Tennessee Region Public Information Officer Robert Reburn, there are three inmates at BCCX ( at the time of writing this story) who are currently in quarantine as a result of possible exposure to COVID-19 from a non-state employee who tested positive.

“The inmates have not currently presented any symptoms,” Reburn said.

As for the Northeast Correctional Complex, Reburn said no inmates at NECX or any other TDOC facility have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Appropriate measures have been taken to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of the inmates as well as staff,” he said. “Those measures follow TDOC guidelines as well as those provided by the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Reburn emphasized that disinfection and safety measures are ongoing and everyone is being reminded to continue practicing the recommendations from the CDC and Department of Health to help prevent spreading COVID-19, (including frequent hand-washing, avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth, use social distancing, stay home if you are sick and clean and disinfect often.)

Reburn emphasized that the Department of Correction maintains Emergency Operations Plans / Continuity of Operations Plans for a variety of emergency events and has implemented a series of these as this fluid situation unfolds. As to the outcome of the reported precautions at these facilities and the hoped containment of COVID-19 only time will tell.

For now, however, inmate family members, as well as members of the public, are encouraged to visit the website for frequently asked questions related to COVID-19.www.tn.gov/correction/frequently-asked-questions-regarding-covid-19.html.