Friday, March 20, 2020

COVID-19 Exposure at Columbia Correctional

We received a number of brief messages from incarcerated people that Columbia Correctional (CCI) went on lockdown because of exposure to COVID-19. The two most detailed are below.

As we predicted, the disease is getting in to Wisconsin prisons. Warden Novak sent two memos, the first saying the lockdown was purely preventative and the second admitting that someone has been diagnosed. It's not clear how quickly the second memo came after the first, but it is clear that Warden Novak's first impulse was to lie and mislead her captives.

CCI is notorious for terrible practices and sadistic staff, so we should expect worse stories from there than we're already hearing from Waupun. We should expect Warden Novak to continue lying and misinforming both the public and the people she holds captive. That's what she does. We have been demanding Secretary Kevin Carr or DAI Administrator Makda Fessahaye fire her for months.

Governor Tony Evers remains completely unresponsive to this growing crisis in his prisons.

Received 10:30PM Saturday March 21:

Just got locked down completely and a "Communicable Disease Notice To Inmates/Youth". (DOC-3607) stating " An  individual at your facility as potentially having COVID 19 which can be transmitted by airborne, contact or droplet. ....

We also received a brief memo of this date from the Warden, Sue Novak, regarding Suspension of Administrative Rules, stating:

"Effective immediately, I am suspending administrative rules pursuant to DOC [sic] Administrative Code DOC Section 309.22 [this must be a typo].

The purpose of this suspension of administrative rules is strictly precautionary.  Maintaining the safety, health, and well-being of staff and persons in our care is priority.  We will be evaluating this suspension on a regular basis in an effort to restore normal operations as soon as allowable.

cc:   Makda Fessahaye, DAI Administrator
         Douglas Percy, DAI Assistant Administrator
         Stephanie Hove, DAI Assistant Administrator"

I think the Administrative Code provision meant to be cited is DOC 306.22(1).  Sadly, Warden Novak is not known for her accuracy or forthcoming nature.  The above memo provides no specific information, but is boiler plate non-information.  DOC 306.22 relates to an emergency and suspension of administrative rules.

Rumor from is that one of the civilian food service workers is the one who tested positive for Covid - 19.  So he/she has had it for a bit while preparing our food. So, the reality is that it is likely to get nasty up in here, and as a Type I diabetic with COPD, my age, etc., I am at the top of the food chain for this virus.  But, I am also a bit ornery and stubborn so it better come with its best game.

Just wanted to let you all know what was happening.  I also don't think we are going to be allowed to make phone calls.

All of you take care and be well and try and keep the bug at bay!

Received 2:00am Sunday March 22:
   Communicable disease notice to inmates/youth
  An individual at your facility has been diagnosed as potentially having covid 19
 Which can be transmitted by  airborne, contact,or droplet.
  Please refer to the disease fact sheet from the wisconsin division of public health. If you identify yourself as being one of the risk groups, or develop any of the symptoms as identified on the fact sheet, you are to notify staff and request to see health services staff promptly.
  You will not be charged a copayment for the his visit related to the above named disease.
 Contact a staff member if you have any questions regarding this notice.
  HSUM    Buchanan

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