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First Inmate At Oregon Federal Prison Tests Positive For COVID-19

<p>The Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan.</p>
<p>The Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan.</p>

An inmate at the federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.

It's the first known case of the disease at the facility, about 30 miles northwest of Salem.

The federal Bureau of Prisons did not immediately release information about the person in custody or how they contracted the disease.

Last week, the Oregon Federal Public Defenders office filed a lawsuit detailing concerns about conditions inside the facility. Inmates have been on lockdown since March 31, with little — and at times no — time out of their cells.

Inmates in prisons and jails are at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 because of their communal living setting, where social distancing is extremely difficult. The lawsuit notes more than 80 federal inmates across the country have died and thousands more have been sickened from COVID-19.

“Whether through indifference or incompetence, the Federal Bureau of Prisons is endangering the lives of individuals entrusted to its care by failing to establish consistent and effective safeguards to protect them from the coronavirus,” court documents state.

Many people in custody don't wear masks, the lawsuit states, adding that since the lockdown started, food quality and cleanliness have declined.

Some inmates have been confined to their cells for 23 hours per day, according to attorneys. At other times inmates have been locked up for more than 72 hours straight. Some inmates are triple-bunked in two-person cells. Some necessary medical care has been reduced or eliminated, the lawsuit states.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

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