All inmates at Wichita Work Release Facility moving to Lansing CF due to COVID-19 cluster

Published: May. 13, 2020 at 7:27 PM CDT
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Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Kansas Department of Corrections says all inmates at the Wichita Work Release are being moved to the Lansing Correctional Facility.

The move comes one day after Sedgwick County confirmed the WWRF as one of the cluster sites in the county.

The KDOC says about 100 men will be moved Thursday. When they get to Lansing, they will be quarantined or isolated.

The KDOC says it started testing the WWRF men this week. The results showed that the current housing situation was not working.

The Lansing facility (about 190 miles from Wichita) has the space and accommodations to assist situations with quarantine/isolation orders, the KDOC said in late April after transferring 124 inmates from the work release facility to Lansing.

"Lansing has plenty of space for social distancing. It's a newer facility so air flow is better," the KDOC said at that time. "There are more medical staff in house to care for anyone who gets sick. These inmates will not integrate with the current Lansing population. There is enough room to keep them separated, so there is no additional risk to the current Lansing inmates."

Separate from the accommodations in place for the men from the work release facility, a cluster at the Lansing Correctional Facility includes 750 reported cases and five deaths: three inmates and two staff members.

Thursday, Eyewitness News spoke with two women, concerned about their loved ones being sent to Lansing from the Wichita Work Release Facility. The women did not want to go on camera, but say they're searching for answers, not understanding why their loved ones were taken from the Wichita facility to a location near a large cluster.

"He has more of a change getting it (there) because he's going to be around more people and he's probably going to be confined to a cell with two people where he was in a cell with one person, (in Wichita)" a woman whose brother was transferred to Lansing says.

The KDOC says health and safety of the inmates is the top priority with the move from Wichita.

"We know that they are someone's loved ones and that they're important, and they shouldn't be overlooked," KDOC Public Information Officer Rebecca Witte says. "And we're working to make sure that doesn't happen."


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Sedgwick County Wednesday released data showing an increase of 36 COVID-19 cases, bringing the county's total to 507. This includes 316 cases where the infected person recovered from the virus, as well as 20 cases where the patient died.

The county reports Wednesday's (May 13) increase is related to a cluster identified at the Wichita Work Release Facility, in the 400 block of South Emporia. The county did not provide a number of cases connected with the facility, but we know over the past several weeks, at least two confirmed cases prompted a quarantine effort that involved transporting inmates identified as being at risk for the virus to the Lansing Correctional Facility.

Prior to issuing a correction, identifying the work release facility as a cluster for COVID-19, it was stated that the cluster was due to residents in the Lansing Correctional Facility.

Sedgwick County reminds the public that residents can be tested for COVID-19 at no cost, regardless of insurance. Any Sedgwick County resident with at least two symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested.

"There are no restrictions on age or underlying condition," the county says.

If you think you should be tested for COVID-19, call United Way of the Plains at 2-1-1.

As of Wednesday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reports more than 7,000 residents in Sedgwick County have been tested for COVID-19.