CARSON CITY, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) — Nearly 90% of inmates at Carson City's Warm Springs Correctional Center have been infected with COVID-19, according to the State of Nevada's online dashboard.
The outbreak is the worst among all of the state's prisons and conservation camps - with 525 total positive cases between the inmates and staff as of Nov. 20.
Family members who have loved ones locked up in Warm Springs said inmates aren't getting adequate medical treatment or food during the outbreak.
"How would you feel waiting for that phone call? Not knowing if they had tested positive or not. Not knowing if they were sick or not. If they were alive or not," one family member said during a press call organized by the ACLU.
'They deserve human dignity and care. NDOC has been silent in the face of this outbreak. We need answers,' another family member said.
Civil liberties advocates and family members are calling on Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak to start releasing some inmates who are close to their release date, have compromised immune systems and are non-violent offenders.
Gov. Sisolak has yet to commit to that step, but a spokeswoman said in a statement to News 4-Fox 11 that he is 'deeply concerned' about the spread.
The Governor remains deeply concerned about the increased spread of COVID-19 in our communities, and that includes spread from the communities making its way into vulnerable populations, like those in correctional facilities and skilled nursing homes. The Governor is pleased to see continued collaboration between the Nevada Department of Corrections and Nevada Health and Human Services to quickly identify outbreaks, provide the necessary care and find creative solutions - including the new contract with Quest Diagnostics to help increase testing turnaround time. However, he understands that in addition to taking immediate actions to address outbreaks in our facilities, we must also address the root source of the problem: the community spread that has reached wildfire levels throughout the State. As mentioned earlier this week, he will be announcing a mitigation plan in the near future.
State health officials Friday said three inmates have been hospitalized with COVID-19 during the outbreak, but all three have since been released. One offender remains on oxygen.
They also announced a new partnership with Quest Diagnostics, a company that will begin testing inmates to reduce the burden on the state's health lab. Over a quarter of the tests statewide have been from inmates in Nevada correctional facilities, increasing the backlog and making it longer for people to get results.
The release also said 79 inmates with the Humboldt Conservation Camp in Winnemucca tested positive for COVID-19.
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News 4-Fox 11 reached out to the Department of Corrections asking for an interview for this story. A spokesman got back to us but said NDOC would not be doing an interview for this report.
According to Nevada Department of Corrections policy: