ODESSA, TX – After a small protest on Friday that alleged the Ector County Jail wasn’t doing enough to protect inmates during the pandemic, the Ector County Sheriff’s office is pushing back.
According to CBS7, the protestors alleged inmates had complained they didn’t have access to masks or enough sanitation supplies to stay safe. One protestor alleged their family members was sick for weeks before she was tested for COVID-19.
“To stand for our family members,” Leticia Medina said. “That is my purpose. That’s why I’m here. I’ll do anything in my power to save my daughter’s life.”
But according to Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis, the allegations weren’t true.
“A lot of information coming from family members are false,” said Griffis.
According to Jail Administrator, Steven McNeil inmates clean their cells daily and the medical staff on sire doesn’t ignore symptoms.
“If a person has a fever or any kind of symptoms like that, we’ll have a medical nurse come check them within that same day,” said McNeil.
“Walls, floors, chairs, doorknobs,” said Ector County Jail’s Head of Nursing TJ Powell. “The entire medical department is followed. Our entire jail is cleaned in the same way.”
According to Sheriff Griffis, only inmates with symptoms are given masks and masks aren’t given all inmates because they “have materials in them that can be used for weapons or other devices.”
According to the Texas Commission on Jail Standard, everyone should wear a mask if cases start popping up. The Ector County Jail currently has confirmed 10 inmates are infected.
“It would be highly recommended to issue those masks to all the staff and all the inmates,” Texas Commission on Jail Standards Executive Director Brandon Wood said. “If the inmates decide they don’t want to wear them, that’s not something that should result in a use of force, possibly a disciplinary, but not a use of force.”
Protestors complained that inmates aren’t being quarantined well enough to prevent future spread,
According to McNeal, “everyone in that cell is checked every day to ensure there is no more symptoms and if it’s symptom-free for 72 hours before any kind of typical quarantine is lifted. Right now, we’re keeping those quarantine provisions in place longer because of what we continue to learn about COVID-19.”
According to Griffis, their efforts throughout the pandemic have resulted in a relatively low case count.
“We’re at this level because of the efforts we’ve put forward,” said Griffis.