Two pods at Otero County Prison Facility on lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreak | KOB 4
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Two pods at Otero County Prison Facility on lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreak

Nathan O’Neal
Updated: May 19, 2020 06:10 PM
Created: May 19, 2020 05:37 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The state reported another federal inmate at the Otero County Prison Facility tested positive for COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, a total of 21 state inmates had tested positive for the disease.

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Due to the outbreak, every state inmate, 589 people, at the facility was tested for COVID-19. Some of their results are still pending.

The outbreak in the state's portion of the facility was discovered Friday after an inmate reported feeling sick.

"We do know that he is the first positive case that we've reported inside our facilities but where he contracted it we're not certain," said Alisha Tafoya Lucero, New Mexico Corrections Secretary.

Tafoya Lucero said her department is working with health officials to conduct contact tracing. They have also put two pods within the prison on lockdown.

"They're all asymptomatic, but we did remove them from the unit that they were in so that they would not be in the same living quarters as people who were not positive," Tafoya Lucero said. 

The ACLU of New Mexico has been calling for the release of more inmates to reduce the risk of an outbreak.

"This is consistent with what we've been worried about and what we've been saying," Lalita Moskowitz, attorney with the ACLU. Moskowitz added that they continue to advocate for the release of prisoners. 

However, Tafoya Lucero said they are taking extra precautions. She said there are more areas for sanitization, and staff is equipped with personal protective equipment.

"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 and to make sure that all the people who have not tested positive are separated from them, and they are also safe," Tafoya Lucero said. 

Federal inmates are handled separately from state inmates at the Otero County facility. KOB 4 reached out to the private company that operates the facility, but did not hear back. 

Otero County Prison Facility COVID-19 cases:
State Inmates: 21
Federal Inmates: 17


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