LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The coronavirus outbreak at the federal prison on Terminal Island continues to get worse, with more than half of the population now testing positive for the illness.
The number of cases have gone up 900% in just one week, leaving family members of inmates and staff members concerned.
One, who agreed to speak with CBS Los Angeles on condition of anonymity, said they were afraid to go to work every day and were scared that he would test positive.
The employee’s reaction comes as the coronavirus outbreak at Terminal Island Federal Prison continued to worsen.
When the staff member said they asked for personal protective equipment in mid-March, they said it was refused.
“Nothing was provided to the staff,” the worker said. “They denied us and told us that it could scare the inmates.”
So far, 570 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, up from 443 on Tuesday. As it stood Wednesday, 54% of the inmate population had tested positive for the illness, two of whom have died, and 10 staff members have tested positive.
Mobile field units have been set up on the grounds of the low-security facility and officials said sick inmates have been separated from the rest of the population, but that did not staunch the spread of the deadly illness.
The employee said they believed the outbreak started with a single staff member and spread like wildfire throughout the prison population.
According to the employee, PPE was provided around April 1, but by then the outbreak had already begun. Those with loved ones incarcerated at the facility are concerned there will be more deaths, and the employee said they were as well.
“All they’re going to do is put my picture on the news and say another hero died,” the employee said. “Wow.”
The Federal Bureau of Prisons responded by saying that initially PPE was provided in a manner consistent with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but as of April 3, equipment was provided to all staff members.