Within two days, confirmed cases of coronavirus at the Federal Medical Center-Carswell in Fort Worth went from 200 cases to 510 cases. Just three weeks ago, the prison reported just three confirmed COVID-19 cases. One inmate died in April, and another inmate died on July 12 from the virus.

Federal Medical Center-Carswell houses female inmates who have mental health issues or medical issues. There are currently 1,357 prisoners at the facility. Some of the prisoners have voiced their concern about the spread of COVID-19 through the facility.

The prison’s administration referred questions to the Bureau of Prisons but claimed that it is taking steps to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Several inmates claim that they do not have enough protective equipment or sanitizing supplies. They claim that the cells are not cleaned immediately after a prisoner tests positive for the virus. 

One of the prisoners at Carswell, who tested positive for the virus, is Reality Winner. In a letter to her sister, Winner said that an officer came to her call to “congratulate” her for testing positive. Winner also claims that prison guards make fun of inmates with COVID-19 and intentionally tried to spread the virus in a unit where chemo patients and dialysis patients reside.

Three Worst Federal Prison COVID-19 Outbreaks in Texas

The three federal prisons with the worst outbreaks of coronavirus are located in Texas. According to officials, there are 2,100 cases of COVID-19 among the three federal prisons.

In addition to the cases at the Carswell prison, Seagoville federal prison in Dallas County and Beaumont federal prison outside of Houston have large outbreaks of COVID-19 among prisoners.

Seagoville has the largest outbreak of the virus. The prison houses about 1,800 inmates. 

Of those inmates, 1,222 have tested positive for COVID-19. Even though the Bureau of Prisons claims that all facilities have special areas and tents for isolating prisoners who test positive for the virus, Seagoville is not using tents.

Beaumont has 477 inmates with COVID-19. Family members of inmates are concerned. Some were planning a protest outside of the facility.

According to data from The Marshall Project, over 12,000 cases of coronavirus has been reported in Texas prisons. The prisons still prohibit transfers and social visits, with very few exceptions.

Prisons Across the Country Have the Same Problem

Texas prisons are not the only facilities that report high rates of COVID-19. Prisons throughout the country are reporting outbreaks of the virus. Prisoners in some facilities are resorting to self-harm or setting fires to bring attention to the crisis. 

In a Detroit jail, 208 employees and 83 inmates tested positive for COVID-19. Two doctors died during the outbreak. 

From South Carolina to California, prisons are reporting outbreaks of the coronavirus. As COVID-19 outbreaks continue in prisons throughout the country, the question of who is responsible and liable becomes more important. 

Shielding and Protecting Companies and Entities From COVID-19 Lawsuits

Many states have already passed legislation that protects companies and individuals from liability for the spread of COVID-19. Some federal lawmakers are also discussing these issues.

If Texas passes laws restricting lawsuits related to COVID-19, it could make it very difficult, if not impossible, for a person to hold a negligent and reckless company accountable if the person contracts COVID-19. 

In most cases, when a company or individual is responsible for causing an injury, the Texas personal injury laws hold that person liable for damages and financial losses. Depending on the type of claim, a person may only need to prove negligence to recover compensation for injuries and damages. 

Negligence claims generally involve proving that: 

  • A party owed a duty of care to the injured person
  • The party breached the duty of care
  • The victim was injured because of the breach
  • The person incurred damages as a direct result of the breach and the injury

In some personal injury cases, there could be additional requirements. For example, in a premises liability case, you generally must prove that the property owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition on the property and failed to correct the condition. Certain laws apply in dog bite cases that could change the burden of proof.

Laws providing COVID-19 protection for companies could increase the standard necessary to hold an entity liable for damages. Depending on the state, it could bar all COVID-19 claims against companies and individuals. 

Workers may also face additional challenges when filing workers’ compensation claims for COVID-19 claims. Proving that the worker contracted the virus on the job may be difficult. Employers are likely to claim that the employee could have contracted the virus anywhere.