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Lexington city officials lament lack of cooperation from FMC

Posted at 10:22 PM, May 05, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Federal Medical Center, which houses inmates who require medical mental health care, is quickly emerging as a hot spot for Coronavirus in Kentucky.

Out of Lexington's 20 new cases reported Tuesday, 18 of them were in the facility, which now has 53 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus. Fifty-two of the cases are inmates. One is a staff member.

"It's worth noting at the Federal Medical Center, these are inmates, but more importantly they're people," said Kevin Hall, the spokesperson for the Lexington Fayette County Health Department. "They're not just checks off a graph on the health department website. They're people and their loved ones are people in Kentucky."

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has suspended outside visits to its facilities, exacerbating the anxieties many families are feeling. But it's not just families who feel left in the dark.

"We got to respond as quickly as we can and the cooperation is just not there," said Tyler Scott, the chief of staff for Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton.

During an Urban County Council virtual work session Tuesday, Scott expressed frustration at the lack of information the city has received about steps the prison has taken to curb the spread of COVID-19. In absence of this cooperation, Scott said city officials have had to get creative.

"What we decided on this morning, based on our collective frustrations was for our own Commissioner of Public Health to start a public social media and press push to all those employees out there to reach out to our health department and start getting tested," Scott explained.

According to the Bureau of Prisons' website, the Federal Medical Center houses 1,456 inmates.

In April, the BOP announced it would expand "COVID-19 testing of inmates utilizing the Abbot ID NOW instrument for Rapid RNA testing at select facilities experiencing widespread transmission." It is not clear if the FMC is one of those select facilities.