He Got COVID In Prison. The Government Said He Was ‘Recovered.’ Then He Died.
When Joseph Lee Fultz arrived at the federal prison complex of Ter Haute, Indiana in January to begin his 27-year sentence, he was imprisoned COVID-19 the outbreak.
Positive cases on the sprawling campus – including a maximum-security prison where death-row inmates are housed, a medium-security prison and an adjacent camp – more than 400 in less than a dozen in early November Had jumped to the end of December, incidentally Capital punishment Held there.
But according to the Federal Prison Bureau, which posts information online about its COVID-19 cases, inmates of Terror Haute were recovering in a rapid clip. In the spreadsheet updated every day, the health status of dozens of prisoners was changing from “positive” to “recovered”. As of January 7, when Fultz set foot in the facility, only 108 people were listed as having active cases. Everyone, the BOP said, was no longer ill.
Four days after his arrival, Fultz tested positive for coronovirus. Then, exactly 14 days later, BOP added it to the “Recovered” column. But Fultz, a 52-year-old man, had severe heart disease and epilepsy. On February 8, a month after his arrival in Terre Haute, he died of a disease related to COVID-19, his body unresponsive was discovered.
Fultz’s death reflects the incomplete and often misleading nature of the COVID-19 data released by corrective facilities, and underscores how little we understand about the damage to the virus that is dying behind bars.
At the onset of the epidemic, public health experts warned that the deadly virus would run rampant in US prisons and jails, without serious changes to the penal system. what is ours The fears have come trueAccording to data collected by the COVID Prison Project, infection rates among trespassers are nearly five times higher than the national average, and three times the death rate, which compiles data on COVID-19 in correctional facilities.
One year into the epidemic, an estimated 386,396 infected people have been infected and 2,331 people have died due to coronovirus – and these are just the cases we are aware of. The correct number is likely to be very high.
There is a disturbing lack of publicly available data about the prevalence and severity of COVID-19 cases in the country’s prisons and jails. Some corrective systems fail to report any data on tests, cases, and deaths, while others share incomplete information at random intervals. The vast majority do not share data on hospitalization – a key metric for detecting outbreak severity – or disaggregates data based on demographic categories such as race, age, or gender, which will provide insight into disparities .
“We’re getting a lot of different types of data points from different systems, which is hard to get an accurate picture of what’s really happening,” Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and co . -COVID prison project completers. “We know tip-of-the-iceberg information, which is good. But this is clearly not enough. “
Democratic lawmakers are emphasizing COVID-19 to improve data collection. COVID-19 Reforms in Data Transparency Act, Originally introduced in August and relaunched last week, will mandate the collection and public reporting of information about the spread of COVID-19. Federal and state authorities will be required to collect and share detailed data about COVID-19 cases, hospitals, deaths and vaccination facilities.
The bill is sponsored by censors Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Patty Murray (D-Wash) and Corey Booker (DN.J.), as well as Reps. Ayan Pressley (D-Mass) and Sylvia Garcia (. D-Texas).
Warren said in a statement, “As a result of their imprisonment, deteriorated people are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19, and the report states that COVID-19 spread like wildfire towards reform across the country is.” “This bill is epidemic and supports the health and safety of unaccompanied individuals, correctional staff, and the general public to strengthen data collection, reporting, and transparency.”
A major problem with the data being reported is that it is not standardized, which makes it difficult to compare data sets accurately. “There is no standard way in which they are defining any variable that they are giving,” Brinkley-Rubinstein said.
The variable “retrieved” is a prime example. Most states report “recovered” cases, Brinkley-Rubinstein said, but there is no standard definition of a recovered COIDID patient. Many jurisdictions define the period after diagnosis, such as 10 days or 14 days, after which a person is recovered.
Brinkley-Rubinstein stated that this metric is redundant, as it does not take linguistic issues into consideration or provide a correct snapshot of health. In some cases, people who have COVID-19 have predictions about or experience long-term health outcomes.
“It is not based on the severity of the disease or on whether someone is doing well or not. They are just using some arbitrary time to move people, which is really concerning, and why you see this man dying as if he was technically defined after being recovered, ” he said. “We’ve seen it in the proper places.”
A BoP spokesman said the agency followed the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if no COVID-19 had been recovered. However, the CDC has not provided an official definition of what it means to have a person recovered. CDC guidance is when a person Can leave medical isolation, Which the BoP pointed to HuffPost.
In a press release, the BOP stated that Fultz, the man who died in Terre Haute, was “recovered” according to CDC guidelines, as he had completed medical isolation and had no symptoms.
He is not the first inmate in the federal system to die of COVID complications after being recovered.
On November 9, Kevin Giles tested positive for COVID-19 in a federal prison in Jessup, Georgia, and was placed in medical isolation. After ten days, he was recovered. Then, on 8 January, he complained of chest pain and was taken to a local hospital. He died the same day.
On December 20, Harry Edward Cunningham tested positive for COVID-19 at a federal prison in Memphis, Tennessee, and was placed in medical isolation. Nine days later, he was recovered. One week passed. On 10 January, he was taken to a local hospital for care. Two days later, he was declared dead.
In the press release, the BOP emphasized that Fultz, Gayle, and Cunningham all had pre-existing conditions that put them at higher risk of developing more severe COVID-19 disease.
Fultz was concerned about the coronovirus’s contract in Terre Haute, his girlfriend, Stacey Dorsey, told HuffPost. While awaiting his sentence, he was held in an Iowa prison, and was transferred to Terre Hoot through a stop at a prison in Oklahoma.
“We were both a little worried, because I had heard that Terre Haute was a superspeeder of coronoviruses, as far as the prison bureaus went,” she said.
The Indiana prison complex was in the news as it was the site of 13 federal executions during the epidemic. Two inmates in the jail had sued the federal government to stop the execution of the sentence, arguing that the incidents were spreading the virus and putting all prisoners at risk of death.
Before Terrett Haute arrived, Dolci spoke to him on the phone every day, he said. Once he reached the prison premises, he never heard his voice again. Soon after Fultz entered the facility, he received a hasty note stating that he was on a three-week lockdown as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID as he arrived from another facility.
“He said he would contact me as soon as he did,” she said.
It was three weeks and there was no contact. She became even more worried, she said, and sent him several letters to inquire about her health.
On 8 February, Dorsey received a call from a pastor from Terre Haute, who broke the news that her boyfriend was dead. Chapala did not tell him that Fultz had tested positive for coronovirus, she said. His death was not related to COVID until he was contacted for this story.
“I don’t like that they weren’t with me … It was almost like they’re trying to hide something,” she said.
She was still in shock over Fultz’s death.
“Just talking to them for four weeks just caused havoc,” he said. “I don’t know how they were treating him.”
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