Alva Review-Courier -

Inmate freed from Oklahoma prison tests positive for virus


April 29, 2020

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is testing inmates for the coronavirus at least a week before releasing them after a man was released then his test result came back positive hours later.

Department spokesman Justin Wolf said Tuesday that an inmate at the William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply was released April 22, two days after being tested but hours before the department received his test result.

Asked if Wolf knew where the inmate, he said no.

"We have no legal authority to hold him ... we followed (state health department) guidelines to notify him," of the positive test, Wolf said.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health did not immediately respond to questions about whether the inmate's family and contacts had been notified.

Wolf said 49 inmates exposed to the man tested negative for the virus and results are pending for three others.

Two of the DOC's 24,000 inmates have tested positive for the virus, in addition to nine staff members, Wolf said.

Statewide, the more than 3,400 people statewide have tested positive for the virus and 207 have died, an increase of nearly 150 cases and 10 deaths from Sunday.

The number of infections, though, is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Despite the increase in cases and deaths, Gov. Kevin Stitt said trends surrounding the spread of the virus are declining and he remains committed to reopening more businesses on Friday.

"The data continues to show we can safely proceed with phase one of our plan to safely and measurably reopen on May 1," Stitt said.

"We're not out of the woods yet," Stitt said. "We still have coronavirus in the United States, still in Oklahoma so we have to continue to be cautious," by social distancing, washing hands and staying home when sick.

The downward data trend includes a decline in the number of hospitalizations from a peak of 560 on March 30 to 288 and a decline in the percentage of new positive tests from 9.1% two weeks ago to 6.1%, coupled with an increase in the number of people tested, Stitt said.

Businesses such as barber shops, hair and nail salons and spas began reopening Friday under a plan announced last week by Stitt that includes social distancing and sanitation guidelines.

The next phase of Stitt's plan is allows businesses such as restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and churches to reopen Friday under similar guidelines. Church nurseries and bars will remain closed.


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