A small protest was held outside the Maui Community Correction Center in Wailuku on Friday seeking protection for inmates from COVID-19, where an outbreak of the virus was first reported four weeks ago.
The pool at the Maui Community Correctional Center was updated Friday to include 75 inmates who tested positive (43 are active and 32 have recovered). The Department of Public Safety reports that there are 44 people in medical isolation and 211 people in quarantine in the latest report.
To date, 722 tests have been conducted at MCCC, 643 returned as negative, and four were inconclusive.
State officials say an MCCC employee also reported a positive independent test result.
The department reports that COVID-19 testing is conducted continuously statewide at all facilities and that all other inmate populations at facilities in Hawai’i are virus-free.
Organizers say the protest included the participation of concerned community members and loved ones of inmates demanding “better immediate protections to prevent further spread of COVID19.”
Among the demands made are: to provide “adequate” medical care; ensure that COVID-19 positive prisoners are not mixed with suspected cases; enforce the wearing of masks for prisoners; provide new masks every day for inmates or two cloth masks per inmate so that they can be washed and reused; and keep those exposed to COVID-19 in quarantine in a separate location from confirmed cases. The group is also looking for guarantees that adequate space is respected in the facilities within the bedrooms.
- (A complete list of demands is available by scrolling down to the bottom of this article.)
County officials said the state Department of Health is following standard protocol with contact tracing and quarantine isolation.
Toni Schwartz, a spokesperson for the state Department of Public Safety, responded to Maui Now’s request for comment saying:
“The Department of Public Safety is aware of the concerns expressed by families and that is why the medical and security staff at the Maui Community Correctional Center work long hours to protect staff and inmates and mitigate the spread of the virus.”
She went on to say, “The facility’s health care staff are monitoring inmates for symptoms, taking their temperatures and doing health checks at least twice a day. All offenders have also been told that if they have pain or symptoms of an upper respiratory disease they should immediately report it to medical personnel. If it is after hours, the center will call an on-call doctor for a consultation. No inmate has required hospitalization due to COVID-19 ”.
Last week, Mayor Michael Victorino had received confirmation from the Hawaii Director of Health that the Department of Health would deploy a second round of vaccines at the correctional facility.
State officials say inmates who test positive or negative are placed in designated housing units within the facility and separated as determined by medical personnel, as recommended by DOH, and in accordance with the Pandemic Response Plan. of the PSD.
“The facility is following the PSD Pandemic Plan to medically isolate, quarantine, and cohort inmates per CDC and DOH recommended guidelines,” said Schwartz, who outlined the following precautions:
- All violators received at least two cloth masks upon entry and must wear them.
- Criminals also have the option of purchasing masks through the commissary if they prefer different brands or styles.
- All inmates and staff are required to follow all security and sanitation protocols, including wearing a barrier mask over the nose and mouth in inmate accommodation and common areas, washing hands frequently, and maintaining adequate social distancing whenever possible.
- All offenders have unrestricted access to hot water, soap, and sanitary supplies.
“PSD’s Health Care Division has made every effort to ensure that there is a comprehensive plan in place to safeguard the health of all inmates and staff in our facilities. They developed a comprehensive pandemic response plan for all facilities, based on current CDC guidance and approved by the American Corrections Association Office of Correctional Health, ”Schwartz said in a statement.
According to Schwartz, “Each facility has adapted the plan to meet their individual facility needs. Every facility has situations they face that are unique to their facility, and the management of those facilities takes that into account as they execute their plans to the best of their ability. “
The full list of demands outlined by the show organizers is included below:
- Immediate medical isolation of confirmed or suspected COVID19 cases with proper medical attention; inmates sick with COVID + are not receiving adequate medical care.
- Quarantine all newly admitted and those with close contacts with COVID19. Immediately stop mixing COVID + inmates with suspected cases and the general population NOW.
- Staff must wear masks at all times and enforce inmate wearing masks.
- Staff should be tested regularly and undergo a medical examination before starting their shift.
- New masks every day for prisoners or two fabric / prisoner masks so they can be washed / reused. Appropriate personal protective equipment (gloves and n95 masks) for laundry workers following the proper mask cleaning protocol.
- MCCC must adhere to CDC guidelines which include: “Confirmed cases must be housed in a well ventilated room with solid walls and a solid door that closes completely and separately from suspected cases”; and Those exposed to COVID-19 should be quarantined separately from confirmed cases.
- MCC must follow the cohort requirements of the Hawaii Correctional System Oversight Commission, which include: Bunks must be at least 6 feet apart, double bunks have a single occupant; and consideration of medical isolation and quarantine of cases that are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (i.e., elderly, schizophrenics, etc.)
- Responsibility: Victorio should allocate funds to bring the Hawaii Correctional System Oversight Commission to MCCC to ensure they begin to follow state and CDC protocol.
- Transparency: fast exchange of accurate data on covid MCCC infections.