BOP Communications Containing Key Terms Related to Covid-19

Communications from the Bureau of Prisons in response to American Oversight’s request for communications containing key terms related to the coronavirus.

Details on these documents below.

Records received in September and October 2020

Records received from November 2020 to March 2021

In the Documents

Testing Capacity
The documents include multiple conversations in which Federal Bureau of Prisons officials were working to procure test kits amid supply shortages. 

March 30, 2020: BOP Medical Director Jeffery Allen asked about the procurement of rapid tests, to which an individual whose name was redacted replied, “we are moving forward with a procurement of 50,000 test today with delivery in 2 weeks I believe.”

April 21, 2020: An email indicated that BOP would order 10 additional Abbott testing machines and 5,000 tests, and that for the four following weeks they would order an additional 5,000 tests each week.

The documents include a list of facilities that had received Abbott machines and test kits as of April 21.

Covid-19 Spread
The BOP first confirmed an incarcerated person had contracted Covid-19 on March 21, 2020. The documents include discussions about the early spread of Covid-19.  

March 27, 2020: An email titled “Covid update” gave details about a Covid-19 outbreak at Federal Correctional Complex Oakdale. It indicated that 48 incarcerated people were in quarantine; 19 were in isolation with symptoms; and 10 were hospitalized, two of whom were in critical condition on ventilators. Only 12 of these individuals’ cases were lab-confirmed, and local health authorities had recommended against testing further individuals with symptoms to conserve testing supplies.

March 30, 2020: The Clinical Director of Federal Detention Center Miami expressed concern to Allen about BOP’s continued transfer of incarcerated people, saying, “Please express the seriousness of this issue to the Director as well as Attorney General Barr. They need to understand how serious this has become.”

March 31, 2020: The warden of Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Indiana forwarded Allen a complaint from officials at the Union Health hospital system: “Many different types of PPE remain critically low and our anticipated highest demand is yet to come. As of this morning, we have a 7-day supply of isolation gowns and 11-day supply of surgical masks despite valiant efforts from the supply chain to secure as much PPE as possible.” 

April 4, 2020: Juan Baltazar, the director of BOP’s South Central Region, passed along an inquiry about why all the staff at FCC Oakdale were not wearing N95 masks in every part of the facility. Later reports showed that Oakdale officials had also failed to follow isolation protocols. 

April 14, 2020: The clinical director of Metropolitan Correctional Center Chicago wrote: “[R]ecently we are experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases. Pretty soon it may rise exponentially. Yesterday we had one confirmed positive inmate and today we have 4 confirmed positive inmates.”

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