The federal Bureau of Prisons is locking all its 146,000 inmates in their cells for the next two weeks in an unparalleled effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, as the focus shifts to a Louisiana compound, where two inmates have died and nearly 20 others remain hospitalized.
The compound, known as FCC Oakdale, has emerged as ground zero in the federal prison system’s struggle to contain coronavirus behind bars. The situation there is so dire that the local health department told the federal government there was no need to test inmates anymore for the coronavirus. Those showing symptoms should be presumed to have it.
On Wednesday, the agency confirmed that a second inmate at Oakdale, 43-year-old Nicholas Rodriquez, had died. Just days earlier, another man, serving a 27-year drug sentence, died at a hospital from the coronavirus. Officials said both men had serious, long-term underlying health conditions. They are the only deaths so far in federal prisons, but state and local lockups have seen deaths.
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So far, 11 Oakdale inmates have tested positive, 19 others are in the hospital and suspected of having the disease, 32 are in isolation with symptoms and 82 have been quarantined because of possible exposure, according to local union president Ronald Morris.
In addition, 13 staff members have tested positive, one is hospitalized in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Alexandria, about 50 minutes away,