State monitors COVID outbreak at Otero County Prison, cases surpass 150 | KOB 4

State monitors COVID outbreak at Otero County Prison, cases surpass 150

Nathan O'Neal
Updated: June 03, 2020 06:18 PM
Created: June 03, 2020 05:37 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The state is continuing to monitor a COVID-19 outbreak at the Otero County Prison.

The state reported its first outbreak at the facility more than two weeks ago, which prompted large-scale testing for the virus.


"We hope that we're able to contain this virus, keep it in this one area and to treat every single person that has tested positive,” said Alisha Tafoya, Cabinet Secretary of the State Corrections Department.

Since the initial case was reported, the number of cases has sharply risen to more than 150. A handful of hospitalizations and at least one death has been reported.

The Corrections Department issued a statement that said they’re “taking aggressive steps to protect both staff and inmates.”

The ACLU said the case numbers say otherwise.

“I think it’s clear from the spread from this big increase in positive cases at the facility that what is being done isn't working,” said Lalita Moskowitz, an ACLU staff attorney.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the ACLU of New Mexico has been calling for more prisoners to be released in order to reduce the risk of the spreading virus.

“Once the virus enters the facility it’s really difficult— nearly impossible to contain,” Maskowitz said.

State health officials said the facility has begun conducting sample testing on a daily basis. The state is also providing on-site assistance with contact tracing.

KOB 4 reached out to the company that manages the facility as well as the U.S. Marshal’s Office about their COVID protocols. Neither agency has responded to KOB 4’s questions.

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