Friday, April 10, 2020

Is the WI DOC Covering up COVID-19 Outbreaks?

Yesterday the Wisconsin State Journal reported that the DOC claims not to  know where new covid cases are coming from. Well, we do.

On April 4, someone who works in laundry at OSCI sent us this in an email:

"today we got a contaminated bag from WI resource center (WRC) which had covid-19 written on it. There have been a couple us at work trying to talk to the boss about getting all laundry accounts to send an email informing us what virus said account is dealing with. All the info we get is from inmates writing to each other and telling us what they are locked down for."

I just called the Wisconsin Resource Center, a DHS facility that holds DOC captives with mental health issues. The DOC is not including them in their list of COVID confirmed cases. I was passed from
person to person, everyone was acting nervous, asking who I am and avoiding my question. They finally ended me with leaving a voicemail for Melissa Kavanaugh- who works for the DOC. I'm awaiting a call back.

My contact and other laundry workers have made their own masks in the tailor shop, but guards are harassing some people who use them, and we all know cloth masks aren't super effective.
I believe the DOC should have been able to track down this situation, if they actually cared to have it get to the public. I've been trying to follow their COVID testing page, and I think they're slow-walking the process in the following ways:
1. testing is happening half as frequently as in Wisconsin's general population, despite all DOC captives fitting in the DHS tier 1 priority for testing. I crunched some numbers on April 7:
Wisconsin Statewide
Total population- 5,814,000
Total tests- 31,090 (1 out of 187 people)
Positives- 2,578 (8.29% of tests)

Wisconsin Prisons
Total Population- 23,417 (on March 20, when testing started)
Total tests completed- 56  (1 out of 263 people)
Positives- 4 (7.14% of tests)

2. The testing results appear to take a week or more. Early on, they talked about sending results out to a lab. I don't see why a lab should take so much longer to get results for prisoners, and i suspect the DOC is slow-walking the process and/or the release of new results.
3. The testing protocol they released early on is to give people with symptoms an influenza test first, and if they're positive, release them back to general population. Yesterday I heard an interview with a nurse from New Orleans who said that was their biggest mistake early on, because covid and the flu can be co-occurring. We know there are influenza outbreaks at Taycheedah and New Lisbon, and a norovirus outbreak at Stanley. If people who test positive for these diseases aren't given covid tests, that could be covering up an outbreak.

4. The number of tests at Columbia CI, MSDF, and Waupun CI are very very low. These are the three facilities where staff exposed people, but the DOC is not testing them.
  • The early reports from WCI stated that Dr Jeffery Manlove exposed 18 people, who went to quarantine. Elijah, our contact inside WCI said that 30 people had symptoms and went to quarantine in those first days, but only 3 have been tested.
  • Five staff at MSDF have tested positive, but only one captive has been tested.
  • Three staff have tested positive at CCI, six captives were tested, 2 came back positive, 1 negative, and 3 are pending.
5. People in maximum level facilities are deterred from reporting symptoms or requesting tests. If you ask for a test, you're moved to quarantine, which is functionally similar to disciplinary segregation. You lose your property, your phone privileges, etc. They don't give you a last phone call to tell your family you're going to be cut off from them for a week. Elijah at Waupun saw guards pointing tasers at people's heads and dragging them to the hole because they reported symptoms but didn't want to go to quarantine immediately. In the weeks prior to the outbreak we heard increasingly frequent reports of people's property being stolen or broken when they go to the hole. This surely contributes to deterring people from reporting symptoms or requesting tests.

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