Winner officials say none have shown COVID-19 symptoms in jail
WINNER — No one at the Winner City Jail has exhibited COVID-19 symptoms before or since a woman who died in federal custody was housed there, city officials announced Thursday.
A statement from city officials said specifics about 30-year-old Andrea Circle Bear's health will not be released but indicated the jail has used and will continue to comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance for correctional facilities in screening for COVID-19.
"These screening procedures occur at the time individuals come to the facility or leave on a transport to a different correctional or detention facility," the statement said. "At no time prior to or since the date of Ms. Circle Bear's transfer from the Winner City Jail have there been any staff or inmates exhibiting any signs or symptoms."
Circle Bear was sentenced by a federal court Jan. 14 for maintaining a drug-involved premises. She was transported by the U.S. Marshal Service from Winner to FMC Carswell, a federal prison that houses more than 1,600 female inmates in Fort Worth, Texas, on March 20, with the entire trip taking place on that day.
The U.S. Department of Justice has indicated Circle Bear was placed on quarantine status when she arrived at FMC Carswell in compliance with the BOP's current procedures. Circle Bear was transported to a local hospital for concerns about her pregnancy on March 28 and for symptoms including a fever and dry cough on March 31. On April 1, her daughter was born via C-section.
Circle Bear was confirmed to be positive for COVID-19 on April 4 and was pronounced dead on April 28. According to the BOP, she had a preexisting medical condition that put her at higher risk.
As of Thursday, no positive COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Tripp County.
Circle Bear's death comes as more scruitny has been focused on federal prisons and COVID-19. On April 7, FMC Carswell employees sent a whistleblower complaint to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, stating they were concerned about safety conditions in the facility. The letter, obtained by Vice News and signed by American Federation of Government Employees Local 1006 President Regina Warren, alleges the BOP knowingly misled the public by announcing lockdowns at all institutions while telling employees internally to minimize inmate movement.
The complaint stated six officers and a nurse who had direct contact with Circle Bear were instructed to continue reporting to work while her COVID-19 test was pending. As of Thursday afternoon, federal data shows that Circle Bear was the only inmate at FMC Carswell to test positive for COVID-19.