A CLOSER LOOK: COVID-19 cases spike within prison population


ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — More than 600 inmates at the Cummins Unit, and at least 10 staff, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the governor’s daily briefing on Tuesday, April 21.

The tests have been completed at the Cummins Unit, located in Grady, Arkansas, but all the results have not been entered into the state’s database. That means there could be an increase of cases announced on Wednesday.

The inmates who have tested positive are housed in eight barracks; seven additional barracks have inmates who are free of the virus.


  • April 10, zero COVID-19 positive cases
  • April 11, first prisoner tests positive
  • April 12, inmate hospitalized
  • April 14, 60+ cases
  • April 19, 142 cases
  • April 20, 117 cases
  • April 21, 262 cases

Dr. Smith said the high count of positive cases at the prison is alarming, “but a prison setting is ideal because you can restrict the setting … it’s easier to control [the environment].”

There are about 1,400 inmates at the Cummins Unit, the governor said.


Arkansas’ only federal prison complex, Federal Correctional Institution in Forrest City, Arkansas (85 miles east of Little Rock), has a total inmate population of 2,087, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) website.

According to the website there are 33 positive COVID-19 cases at the Federal Correctional Institution, two are staff. However, there is a bit of discrepancy as Governor Hutchinson reported 55 COVID-19 cases on April 12 during a daily briefing. (UPDATE 4/27: 40 positive inmates and 1 staff, low; 3 positive staff, med.).

BOP’s Public Health Service (PHS) staff will visit the Forrest City prison this week, and it could be as soon as Tuesday, April 21, according to Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith. “They are prepared for testing … a lot of planning goes in to it … hit the ground running.” Smith said once the tests are done it may indicate more testing will need to be done. “We want to get the most actionable information.”


There are 142,649 (4/22, 143,616) federal inmates in 10,442 communities. As of April 27, 1,046 (4/22, 540) federal inmates and 330 (4/22, 323) BOP staff have confirmed positive tests for COVID-19 nationally. Currently, 390 inmates and 124 (4/22, Two-hundred-twenty inmates and 49) staff have recovered. There have been 29 federal inmate deaths, and zero BOP staff member deaths in connection to COVID-19.


  • 7 deaths FCI Oakdale 1, Oakdale, Louisiana
  • 7 deaths FCI Elkton, Lisbon, Ohio
  • 5 deaths FCI Butner Med 1, Butner, North Carolina
  • 2 deaths FCI Terminal Island San Pedro, California
  • 1 death FCI Danbury, Danbury, Connecticut
  • 1 death FCI Lompoc, Lompoc, California
  • 1 death RRC Behavioral Systems Southwest, Phoenix, Arizona
  • 3 deaths FMC Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas
  • 2 deaths FCI Milan, Milan Michigan

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