The Alabama Department of Corrections’ (ADOC) Office of Health Services today confirmed two inmates incarcerated at St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville, and one inmate incarcerated at Bullock Correctional Facility in Union Springs have tested positive for COVID-19.
These three positive tests are the first verified COVID-19 cases among ADOC’s inmate population. While working to verify this information, the ADOC has coordinated with and reported to the Alabama Department of Public Health. Unfortunately, one of these positive cases also is potentially the ADOC’s first COVID-19-related death.
Dave Thomas, a terminally ill, 66-year-old male serving a life-sentence for murder out of Randolph County, sadly passed away yesterday at local hospital less than 24 hours after testing positive for COVID-19. On April 4, Thomas was transferred to the local hospital from St. Clair to receive critical care related to his preexisting conditions, and was pronounced dead on April 16 presumedly due to a cardiovascular event. Thomas’ exact cause of death is pending an autopsy. The ADOC extends its sympathies to the Thomas family and his loved ones during this difficult time affecting so many across the world.
The second inmate who tested positive for COVID-19 at St. Clair, a 52-year-old male serving a 17-year sentence for manslaughter, has been transferred to a local hospital for treatment. The inmate who tested positive at Bullock, a 33-year-old serving a 10-year sentence for theft of property, is being treated and carefully monitored by his physicians.
Immediately following confirmation of the positive tests among ADOC’s inmate population at St. Clair and Bullock, a rapid response team was deployed to interview and follow up with staff and inmates who may have had direct, prolonged exposure to the positively tested inmates. Upon completing the appropriate due diligence, ADOC’s Office of Health Services consulted with Wexford Health Source’s state medical director and proceeded to quarantine a group of inmates out of one dormitory at St. Clair and quarantine an entire dormitory at Bullock. The dedicated quarantine zones at each of these facilities are fully operational. Correctional staff and quarantined inmates at St. Clair and Bullock have been provided necessary guidance and health education, as well as appropriate referrals to the Alabama Department of Public Health and other healthcare providers in the event they become symptomatic.
“In addition to the numerous, system-wide preventative and precautionary measures instituted to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our facilities, the ADOC has been aggressively preparing for this day, which was an inevitability based on what we are seeing across the country and world,” said ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn. “We’ve planned extensively, we’ve trained thoroughly, and now we are activating the containment strategies outlined in our Pandemic COOP to slow the spread of this virus and ensure we continue to protect all those who live and work in our facilities to the best of our ability.”
The ADOC continues to distribute face masks across the correctional system to staff and inmates, and anticipates by April 24 each inmate will have two masks. They intend to continue production of face masks at their factory plants at Holman Correctional Facility and Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women until all inmates have been provided a total of four. They are continuing to source additional hygiene supplies and work with advocacy groups to obtain more hand sanitizer, among other needed items. Inmates also currently have access to liquid antibacterial soap.
The ADOC will continue the implementation of all current preventative measures, and will consider all new recommended guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other state and federal agencies as the COVID-19 situation evolves.