Staff member at federal prison in Wayne County tests positive for COVID-19

Midstate GOP Congressman Fred Keller has called on the BOP to work within the Justice Department to stop all inmate movements immediately.

  • John Beauge/PennLive

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(Waymart) — A staff member at the Canaan federal penitentiary in Wayne County has tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the first U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) employee in Pennsylvania to do so.

Earlier in the week the BOP reported an inmate at Canaan also had tested positive.

As of 3 p.m. Saturday, the BOP reported 120 inmates and 54 staff members throughout its system had tested positive but none of the others was in Pennsylvania.

U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, who has introduced legislation to prevent the transfer of inmates among federal prisons during the COVID-19 outbreak, issued the following statement:

“The fact that a staff member at USP Canaan, right in the backyard of Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District, has been diagnosed with COVID-19 is the latest indication of failure on behalf of top officials at the federal Bureau of Prisons to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“Those working in our federal prisons do a great job day-in and day-out protecting America from some of the worst criminals in the world.

“The fact that the Bureau of Prisons cannot keep them safe from this dangerous virus is a failure of leadership.

“We must continue to work to prevent the further spread of this virus among the prison system nationwide and hope that it does not infiltrate into our local, rural communities that have limited capacity to deal with a major outbreak.”

USP Lewisburg

Courtesy Bureau of Prisons

Courtesy Bureau of Prisons

The Canaan prison is not in Keller’s 12th District but the lawmaker said many of its staff members live there.

The Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary and the Allenwood Federal Correctional Complex are in his district.

On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., wrote Attorney General William Barr asking him to explain the Justice Department’s preparedness and response plans to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

He pointed out the Bureau of Prisons had not responded to his March 20 letter regarding inmate transfers, a lack of personal protective equipment and social distancing procedures.

“An outbreak at a BOP facility will impact far more people than simply those inside the facility,” he wrote.

The first federal prisoner death was reported March 28 at the Oakdale prison in Louisiana.

 

PennLive  and The Patriot-News are partners with PA Post.

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