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EXCLUSIVE: Inmate’s mother expresses concerns over COVID-19 outbreak in local prison

One mother says the ADOC isn’t taking precautions and the COVID-19 outbreak is out of control.
Updated: Oct. 27, 2020 at 6:21 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Alabama Department of Corrections has had hundreds of positive COVID-19 cases in prisons across the state.

Locally, the Limestone Correctional Facility is listing 53 positive COVID-19 inmates, 30 of those cases still active.

The facility is also listing 30 positive COVID-19 employees, 18 of those still active cases.

Debra Mears, whose son is in the facility, says her concern started about a month ago.

“He said they’re not isolating them, and he said they don’t have a place to isolate them," Mears explained.

Mears' son is serving time for drug charges. She says she talks to him every day, and is concerned about how quickly the virus is spreading inside the facility due to lack of protocols being taken.

Mears tells WAFF 48 News inmates have no masks, says social distancing is impossible and there’s little to no hand sanitizer given to inmates.

She says her son was tested for COVID-19, 10 days ago, after being sick for weeks.

He still hasn’t gotten his results back.

She says her biggest concern is that something could happen to her son, and she may not know about it until it’s, “too late.” Mears says she wants to see better precautions being taken, and medical care provided to stop the spread of the virus inside the facility.

“The hospitals have staff, so why can’t a state run facility have staff?,” she said.

WAFF 48 News reached out to the Alabama Department of Corrections twice Tuesday to ask specific questions regarding the Limestone Correctional Facility.

A spokesperson with ADOC says they’re not doing interviews at this time due to staff working from home.

ADOC Public Information Specialist Samantha Rose reiterated the following procedures are taking place at the Limestone Correctional Facility:

  • Upon discovery of a new positive case, the infected individual is immediately placed on level-three quarantine, or in medical isolation, and provided appropriate medical care either at the facility or a local hospital if additional care is required.
  • Any time a new case is identified, all individuals who live in his or her living area are placed on level-one quarantine for regular monitoring.
  • Those who have had exposure and are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 are placed on level-two quarantine for closer monitoring and further separation.

Rose said seven dormitories at Limestone Correctional are on level-one quarantine following the test results released on October 23.

Also according to Rose, ADOC set up level-two quarantine areas to safely house inmates who are currently exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and are still awaiting their test results. Inmates who currently are positive for COVID-19 are on level-three quarantine, or medical isolation.

Level-two and level-three quarantine areas are set up outside of inmates' immediate living areas, or within the infirmary, as is required to protect those who may not have been exposed. Medical care is being provided to those inmates who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

In addition to quarantine procedures, Rose said that inmates are given hand sanitizer and masks, despite what inmates and inmate’s family members have told WAFF 48 News.

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