A federal prison hospital in Fort Worth, which a been home to the greatest concentration of people testing positive for the coronavirus in the state of Texas, is in the process of granting some of its inmates a “compassionate release.”
More than 600 of the 1,500-plus inmates at Federal Medical Center Fort Worth have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent weeks, and at least 8 of those inmates have died.
One of the many inmates who have recovered from COVID-19 was released into home confinement on Thursday morning, after more than a week of pleas and protests from his family members and other activists.
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Adan Borrego, of Fort Worth, has served slightly more than half of his 10-year sentence for conspiracy to possess a controlled substance at FMC Fort Worth. Borrego has diabetes and a heart condition.
“I was scared,” Borrego said about his positive test for the coronavirus. Borrego described his symptoms as being like the flu, in addition to also losing his sense of taste and smell.
Upon his release Thursday, Borrego said he was concerned about the close proximity he and the other inmates are kept inside of FMC Fort Worth, what he estimated was nearly 300 people to a pod.
“It’s just real crowded, real crowded,” Borrego said, adding that even with medical masks on it was difficult to keep a proper distance from other inmates who were coughing or showing apparent signs of COVID-19.
Borrego’s niece, Cynthia Solis, protested for days alongside Shenita Cleveland, a criminal justice activist, who spoke with a representative of the warden at FMC Fort Worth in an effort to help secure her uncle’s compassionate release.
Her concern is that her uncle was fortunate to not have contracted more severe symptoms, considering his preexisting conditions.
“They should have been prepared for this. Everybody warned the [Bureau of Prisons] that this would happen, that it would spiral out of control. And that is exactly what happened here,” Solis said.
Earlier this month, NBC 5 Investigates reported that a series of medical tents had been erected on the grounds of the prison to help triage and treat the sickest patients.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons has not responded to NBC 5's requests for comment.