By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – More than 10% of Canadian County’s jail inmates await transfer to state Department of Corrections’ custody where some prisoners have started receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
And while some state prisons have started vaccinating inmates for the virus, this won’t make a difference in how many county inmates can be moved to a DOC facility.
The Canadian County Jail population on March 15 totaled 234 inmates in custody. Some 188 prisoners are housed at the detention center, 304 N Evans, with 46 in other counties.
Canadian County has contracts with four other county jail facilities – Dewey, Grant, Washita, and Ellis – to transport its inmates when the county’s 192-bed lock-up nears capacity.
Some 27 Canadian County inmates on Monday were awaiting transfer to a state DOC facility, county jail administrator Kristie Carter reported.
County commissioners wondered whether DOC would start accepting more transfers from counties like Canadian as prisoners begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
“They’re still very stringent in their testing,” Carter replied. “They have mentioned, in their last request for transfers, the vaccination.”
The state DOC started providing coronavirus vaccinations last week to its most at-risk inmates – those in infirmaries, others susceptible to the virus and inmates 65 and older.
Inmates still must quarantine and be tested for the virus – even with proof of vaccination.
“Whether or not the inmates are vaccinated, at this time, isn’t going to make a difference in how quickly they’re moved,” Carter explained.
With much of Canadian County’s jail population remaining in custody only for a few hours or days, this makes it difficult for the county’s inmates to receive a two-dose vaccine.
“With the single-dose vaccination, that might be an option,” Carter said.
Some 7,324 of 29,848 prisoners in state DOC custody have tested positive for the virus since testing began, according to the department’s website.
The data shows 100 state inmates are now positive, with 42 of those at Howard McLeod Correctional Center, 18 at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary and 18 at the Oklahoma State Reformatory.
Some 606 state inmates were tested during the week of March 7-13, and 82 were positive.