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State confirms 5 prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19

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Posted at 5:42 PM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 17:42:51-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Correction has confirmed that a total of five offenders have tested positive for COVID-19.

The positive test results were at Indiana Women's Prison in Marion County and the Plainfield Correctional Facility in Hendricks County, according to David Bursten, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Correction.

"The Indiana Department of Correction has and will continue to test staff and offenders in accordance with CDC guidelines," Bursten said in an email. "The IDOC Response and Preparedness Plan is being followed for any staff member or offender who test positive."

Bursten said that as needed symptomatic offenders are separated from other offenders.

"Movement of offenders is not released in accordance with security protocols for the safety of offenders and staff," Bursten said. "We are grateful that none of the staff or offenders who tested positive have required hospitalization."

On Thursday, State Sen. J.D. Ford, D-Indianapolis, calling for a proactive plan to protect DOC offenders and workers.

"I am disappointed to have to learn second-hand in a recent news article that DOC offenders in my own district are testing positive for COVID-19," Ford said. "I had already sent a letter asking for clarification on what steps were being taken to protect the offenders and workers in the DOC system. So far, only reactive policies have been put in place, and it's imperative that we have a plan for the human beings in our DOC prisons."

In a letter dated March 28, Ford asked how many staff members and offenders have tested positive, what the plan for treatment and testing other offenders and isolating other offenders is and whether the state would consider a full review of all offenders who are non-violent with less than six months left in their sentence could be released. Ford said none of the questions have been answered.

"These offenders are people too, and they currently have little to no ability to self-isolate or quarantine in prisons that are already overcrowded," Ford said. "We need a plan now because it is only a matter of time before more offenders and workers are infected with, and even worse die from, COVID-19."