Over 70% of tested inmates in federal prisons have COVID-19

Prisons officials say they are doing the best they can under dire circumstances and following guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are doing the right things to manage our population and to keep them as safe as possible at this time when we can’t provide that assurance to our average American free public that everyone is safe and secure right now with this pandemic,” said Kathy Hawk Sawyer, a senior adviser at the Bureau of Prisons who previously ran the agency twice.

As of Wednesday, 31 inmates, including Fleming, had died of the coronavirus at federal correctional facilities since late March. About 600 have recovered.

Prisons officials have daily calls with CDC officials, and CDC teams have visited several correctional facilities. As part of the plan to slow the spread of the coronavirus, officials have limited inmate movement, set up tents to increase bed space, isolated inmates at some prisons and identified others for possible home confinement.