Oklahoma prison coronavirus outbreak


November 22, 2020

Whitney Bryen, Oklahoma Watch

Robert Lavern, 52, contracted COVID-19 while serving time at the William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply. He was afraid to tell guards or medical staff he felt unwell because symptomatic inmates were kept in isolation rooms with no heat or air, beds or entertainment. Lavern said it felt like inmates were being punished for being sick.

Two weeks into his stay in Lexington A&R, a guard approached Robert Lavern's cell door and told him to gather his belongings.

Lavern was accustomed to moving. Over the course of four weeks, he relocated from his Talala home to the Rogers County Jail to Lexington Assessment and Reception Center, where newly sentenced male inmates are classified by security level and gang affiliation and then shipped off to prisons across the state.

This time there was no bus outside waiting for Lavern. It was mid-March, when Oklahoma schools were canceling in-person classes, restaurants were closing their...

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