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Crime Two Texas prisons on complete lockdown related to possible COVID-19 exposures

20:56  07 april  2020
20:56  07 april  2020 Source:   houstonchronicle.com

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Two Texas prison units are on a complete lockdown after most of their inmate population was placed in medical restriction for possible exposure to COVID-19, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman confirmed.

a close up of a metal fence: Two Texas prison units are on a complete lockdown after most of their inmate population was placed in medical restriction for possible exposure to COVID-19. © Steve Ueckert, Staff / Houston Chronicle

Two Texas prison units are on a complete lockdown after most of their inmate population was placed in medical restriction for possible exposure to COVID-19.

The Rufe Jordan Unit, a men’s prison in Pampa, was locked down after 993 inmates were placed in medical restriction as of Monday. TDCJ had not yet updated those figures Tuesday. The unit’s maximum capacity is 1,008, according to TDCJ’s website.

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The Dr. Lane Murray Unit, a women’s prison in Gatesville, was placed on lockdown after 1,147 inmates had entered medical restriction as of Monday. That unit’s maximum capacity is 1,341.

As of Tuesday, all inmates in those units have been confined to their cells, spokesman Jeremy Desel said.

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Medical restriction is one of two levels of quarantine created by TDCJ to slow the spread of Covid-19. Inmates are placed in medical restriction if they’ve been exposed to a confirmed case or someone showing symptoms of the virus. Typically those inmates are restricted to one part of the unit, and medical staff checks on them twice a day.

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Inmates are sent to medical isolation, in which they are placed in a single cell in another part of the unit, if they test positive or show symptoms of the virus. They are given a face masks, and nurses regularly check their respiratory status, officials said.

TDCJ had already ordered a lockdown for all inmates in medical restriction and medical isolation, but the lockdown was expanded for the Jordan and Murray units.

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At least 14 Murray Unit inmates were in medical isolation as of Monday, including four with a positive test. The lone inmate in medical isolation at the Jordan Unit had tested positive, according to TDCJ.

On Monday, a total of 28 TDCJ employees, staff or contractors and 19 offenders in custody had tested positive for COVID-19.

Cloth masks, crafted in prison factories, are being distributed to all offenders in medical restriction throughout the prison system.

julian.gill@chron.com

Myanmar to release 25,000 prisoners amid virus fears .
More than a quarter of Myanmar's prison population is to be released, the president's office announced Friday, as calls grow to ease pressure on overcrowded jails with coronavirus fears gripping the country. The Southeast Asian nation grants an annual amnesty to thousands of prisoners to mark its April New Year holiday, but this is the largest ever recorded.

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