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AP Analysis: Federal Executioner Probably COVID Superspreader | National

Washington (AP) — 70% of convict on death row were ill with COVID-19 as the Trump administration approached the end of an unprecedented series of executions. The guard was ill. A patrol prison employee on the execution team was infected with the virus. So did media witnesses. They may have unknowingly infected others when they returned home because they were not informed of the spread of the incident.

According to records obtained by the Associated Press, Indiana prison employees who had been executed 13 times over a six-month period had contact with coronavirus-infected prisoners and others, but refused to test. I refused to participate in contact tracing efforts. Still, they were allowed to return to their job assignments.

Other staff, including those brought in to assist executions, also shared tips with colleagues on how to avoid quarantine and avoid public health guidance from the federal and Indiana health authorities.

According to records reviewed by AP, the execution of President Donald Trump at the end of his term could have been completed in a short period of several weeks and acted as a superspreading event. It was a warning that health professionals could happen when the Justice Department insisted on resuming executions during a pandemic.


It is not possible to know exactly who caused the infection and how it began to spread, as prison personnel are not consistently contact tracing and the number of cases is not completely transparent. .. However, medical experts say that many executioners and support staff are likely to have caused or contributed to the outbreak of the virus from prisons in other states, beyond the walls of Terre Haute and prisons. ..

According to Colorado-based lawyer Madeline Cohen, 33 of the 47 executioners were positive between December 16th and 20th, with Alfred Bourgeois on December 11th and December 10th. Infected shortly after Brandon Bernard’s execution. The person who summarized the names of those who tested positive by contacting the lawyers of other federal convict on death row. Other lawyers and activists in contact with convict on death row also told AP that a large number of convict on death row were tested positive in mid-December.

In addition, at least the other 12 Including execution team members, Media witnesses and spiritual advisers are positive within the incubation period of the virus and meet the criteria of Superspreader event, One or more individuals cause the outbreak and spread to many others outside the circle of acquaintances. Aggregations can be much higher, but it’s impossible to ensure without contact tracing.

According to prison data, the cases of active prisoners in Indiana prison were also on December 29, 18 days after the bourgeois execution, from just three cases on November 19 when Orlando Cordia Hall was sentenced to death. The number increased sharply to 406. The data includes high-security prison inmates, but the prison bureau has not revealed whether the numbers include convict on death row.

726 of the approximately 1,200 prisoners in Terre Haute’s US prison have been tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic, according to prison data. Of these, 692 have recovered.


With supporters lawyer For prisoners Zen monk A prisoner’s spiritual adviser, even the victim’s family fought to delay executions until the end of the pandemic. Their request was repeatedly rejected and their proceeding failed. And some people get sick.

Witnesses who were required to wear a mask saw from behind the glass in a small room where it was often impossible to stand 6 feet away. They went in and out of the Van Death Room building, where proper social distance was often not possible. Passengers often had to wait at least an hour in a van with curled windows and little ventilation, after which they were allowed to enter the execution room building. And in at least one case, witnesses were trapped in the execution room for more than four hours with little ventilation and no social distance.

Prison officials told their colleagues that they could fly home first and then take the exam, the two familiar with the matter said. They said that if they were positive, they could just quarantine and wouldn’t get stuck in the terre haute for two weeks, those who couldn’t publicly discuss private conversations were anonymous. I talked to AP.

the following Execution of the hall in NovemberThe Justice Department said in court filings that only six members of the execution team chose to be tested for coronavirus before leaving Terre Haute. The agency said they tested all negative. But a few days later Eight members of the team test positive Antivirus. Five of the staff who tested positive were returned to Terre Haute for further execution a few weeks later.

Hall’s spiritual adviser, Yusuf Ahmed Null, stood just inside the execution room when Hall was executed on November 19. He tested positive for the virus a few days later.

Noor wrote about the experience, but he knew he would be at risk, but Hall said he had asked him to be with him when he died. He and Hall’s family felt obliged to be there.

“I couldn’t say no to the man who was killed right away,” Null wrote. “In the process, I was infected with COVID-19 because of the execution of the death penalty during a pandemic.”

Later, two journalists witnessed other executions in early December, tested positive for the virus, and then contacted activists and their loved ones.Prison Bureau, despite being informed about the diagnosis Deliberately withheld information Witnesses from other media have decided not to start contact tracing efforts.


By mid-December, prison officials were both Corey Johnson and Dustin Higgs I was ill. They were the last two prisoners who were executed just days before President Joe Biden took office.

The convict on death row was blocked after the results came out, the prisoner told Ashley Kincaid Eve, a lawyer and anti-death activist. However, even if they are positive, the Higgs and Johnson can move through the prison and infect the guards who accompany them, so when the execution date approaches, lawyers use phone and email. She said she was able to talk to her and her family. Eve said prison officials may be concerned that the court would delay executions for constitutional reasons if its access was denied.

In response to a question from the AP, the prison bureau said staff who had no symptoms were “clear at work” and that they would be temperatureed and asked about their symptoms before reporting work. (AP used to be other prison staff Clear at room temperature Even if the thermometer shows a reading of hypothermia. )

The agency also conducts contact training in accordance with federal guidance, saying “we are unaware if staff are evading this guidance.”

Officials said staff had to participate in contact tracing “if they met the criteria” and authorities could not force employees to test.

“We can’t force staff to test, and the CDC doesn’t recommend testing for asymptomatic individuals,” a spokesman for the authorities said, referring to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Terre Haute’s union declined to comment, “I don’t want to be involved in the public dispute across the issue.”

Elsewhere, union officials have long complained about the spread of the coronavirus through the federal prison system and the lack of personal protective equipment and rooms to isolate infected prisoners. Although some of these issues have been mitigated, virus containment remains a concern at many facilities.


No further executions are planned under Biden. The Bureau of Prisons repeatedly refused to say the number of other people who were tested positive for the coronavirus after the last few executions. In addition, the agency will not answer questions from the general public about specific reasons for withholding information and will instead instruct the AP to submit a request for public records.

The prison bureau also “made extensive efforts to mitigate the infection” of the virus, including limiting the number of media witnesses and adding additional vans for witnesses to place them. Said.

Witnesses are informed that they may not be able to keep a social distance in the execution chamber, witnesses and others must wear masks, and additional protective equipment such as gowns and face shields. Claims to have been provided. Authorities also answer questions about whether director Michael Carbajal or other senior leaders have expressed concern about the execution of 13 people during a pandemic that killed more than 450,000 people in the United States. I refused to do that.

Still, it doesn’t seem to follow its own protocol. After a federal judge ordered the prison office to wear a mask during the execution in January, the executioner and the U.S. federal security officer in the execution room removed the mask in one of the executions and ordered the judge. Seemed to violate. Authorities argued that it was necessary to do so in order to be clearly contacted, and argued that the mask had only been removed for a short time and that it violated the order.


In a court filing on November 24 regarding the spread of COVID in Terre Haute, Joe Goldenson, a public health expert on the spread of illness behind prisons, said that hundreds of staff were somehow on each execution. He said he participated. A team of execution teams and a professional security team of 50 people who traveled from other prisons across the country. He said he had previously warned that executions are likely to be superspreaders.

Medical and public health experts have repeatedly called on the Department of Justice to postpone executions, and prisons are particularly prone to prisons because of social distances and substandard medical care. He claimed to be vulnerable.

“These are the types of high-risk superspreader events that (American Medical Association) and (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) warn throughout the pandemic,” said James L. Madara, Executive Vice President of AMA. .. He wrote to the Department of Justice on January 11, just before the last three federal enforcements took place.


Tarm was reported from Chicago and Sisak was reported from New York.


Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter., Michael Balsamo at And Michael Sisack

AP Analysis: Federal Executioner Probably COVID Superspreader | National

Source link AP Analysis: Federal Executioner Probably COVID Superspreader | National

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