The eminent physicist Stephen Hawking believed that there will come a time when the universe stopped expanding and would start collapsing instead. When that happened, he claimed, time (and everything else) would run backward.
It has been made possible by the BOP. How else does one explain the fact that the total number of COVID tests done by the agency peaked at 129,677 on January 25, 2022, and has dropped ever since? As of last night, the BOP claimed to have tested 790 fewer people since April 2020 than it claimed to have tested a little more than a month ago.
At this pace, the BOP is “untesting” more inmates a day than it is testing. Literally, double think from 1984…
This is not a surprise development. The total number of inmate COVID cases peaked a year ago in February and then began a slow decline that made keeping reliable records of how many BOP prisons had gotten the virus since April 2020 unfeasible. The number declined by 5,300 till just before Christmas. In other words, around 3 percent of the inmate population “uncaught” COVID in the last year.
What is the mechanism via which this is possible? Only Hawking is aware of this…
Then there’s the issue of the official vaccine count, which has been a source of contention. Forty-one BOP prisons claim to have vaccinated more than 100 percent of their inmates. For instance, FCI La Tuna (on the Texas-New Mexico state line) has an inmate population of 967. Yet as of last Friday it claimed to have vaccinated 1,239 inmates. To be sure, inmates come and go. Some players transfer, some are released, and some newcomers join the team. But across the system, the BOP claims to have vaccinated more than 4,000 convicts than it has in custody.
The BOP’s “Voodoo” standard
A year ago, the agency discreetly adopted the voodoo standard that it would remove from its inmate COVID total everyone who had acquired COVID while a BOP prisoner but later was released. Sort of like the person was never an inmate and the COVID case had never occurred.
That statistic was bizarre enough, as it appeared to be intended to conceal just how disastrously the BOP COVID mitigation plan had gone wrong. Ironically, the agency has tended to go the opposite way on vaccinations: a prison counts an inmate immunization on its total even after the prisoner is discharged.
The BOP maintains constant contact with the COVID scale. Its rule for recordkeeping is to follow whatever norm looks good on paper, regardless of whether or not it is accurate.
The BOP claimed 459 inmates recovered from COVID between a week ago last Friday and last Wednesday. But unfortunately, only three recovered over the next three days. As of Friday, 1,253 convicts and 1,019 employees were sick. As of the night, the number reduced to 475 inmates and 671 personnel remaining with COVID. According to the BOP, COVID was still present at 113 prisons.
At least 305 inmates remain dead. There’s not much the BOP can do about those numbers. The BOP stated last week that two inmates, one at Tucson and one at FMC Lexington, have died of COVID. One was sick on January 14 and was quickly proclaimed “recovered” on January 24. The second got sick on January 18, and “recovered” even more quickly, after only seven days.
Despite being deemed “recovered… in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines,” as the BOP always defiantly puts it, one prisoner went to the hospital eight days after recovery and died there. The other died in his cell.
The BOP now claims that 70.7 percent of personnel and 76.4 percent of inmates have been vaccinated. Both of those numbers are mushy for reasons already discussed. (The overall number of BOP employees (36,553) has declined by 138 during the past few weeks).
Threatening to lock up BOP employees: Great for morale in an agency that can’t hang on to people…
Threatening to lock up BOP employees: Great for morale in an agency that can’t hang on to workers…
Remember a month ago, when a BOP staffer granted two U.S. senators a tour of FCI Danbury after the senior brass there refused them entrance? On Feb 11 Shaun Boylan, a BOP financial program specialist and vice president of the BOP employees’ union at Danbury, has filed a complaint with the BOP’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office claiming he has been repeatedly retaliated against for engaging in union activities, including giving Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy (both D-CT) a tour of the facility in January.
Boylan claimed that his boss told others that “I will be relegated to the phone room and that criminal charges are pending against me,” among other things.
The BOP said it “altered” the congressional tour to maintain COVID-19 protocols. Danbury FCI is currently the subject of a federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration complaint about the management of COVIDs at the facility.
At this time, does COVID have any significance anymore? According to the Wall Street Journal, we aren’t out of the woods just yet. A more infectious version of the Omicron variant, known as BA.2, was discovered last week and “has skyrocketed to account for more than a third of global Covid-19 cases sequenced recently, adding to the argument about whether countries are ready for full reopening,” according to the publication. Health officials are investigating if BA.2 could lengthen the duration of Covid-19 waves that have recently reached their peak.
“We’re looking not only at how quickly those peaks go up, but how they fall down,” World Health Organization epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said. “And as the decline in instances occurs…we also need to look at: Is there a slowing of that decline? Alternatively, will we begin to see an increase once more?”
BOP Press Release, Inmate Death at FMC Lexington (February 24, 2022)
BOP Press Release, Inmate Death at USP Tucson (February 24, 2022)
CTInsider, Records: Danbury federal prison named in two complaints alleging work place issues, infrastructure problems (February 22, 2022)
Wall Street Journal, Fast-Spreading Covid-19 Omicron Type Revives Questions About Opening Up (February 23, 2022