Wyoming Department of Corrections Inmates Make Cloth Masks For Entire Facility

Wyoming Department of Corrections Inmates Make Cloth Masks For Entire Facility

Kalub Mayes sews a sneeze guard at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington. Wyoming Department of Corrections photo

Cheyenne The Wyoming Department of Corrections (WDOC) is continuing their effort to mitigate impact of the COVID-19 virus. To date there have been no reported positive cases within the WDOC inmate population.

A staff member from the Wyoming Women’s Center (WWC) who tested positive for the virus last week has made a full recovery according to the Wyoming Department of Health. No other cases among WDOC staff have been reported.  

In the last two weeks, approximately 30 inmates from the WWC, the Wyoming State Penitentiary (WSP), and the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution (WMCI) have been voluntarily working extended shifts at their facilities to produce cloth utility masks (referred to as “sneeze guards”) for the entire WDOC staff and inmate population. The masks are being manufactured through the WDOC’s Correctional Industries (CI) Program.  

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Everyone working inside a WDOC facility – to include the Department’s 25 Field Offices, Central Office, and five correctional facilities – is now required to wear a department issued sneeze guard in compliance with CDC recommendations. Multiple sneeze guards are being issued to individuals, as the masks are intended to be worn only one day before being laundered. The sneeze guards have been made in two colors- orange for inmates and white for staff. Over 10,000 masks have been made between WWC, WMCI and WSP as of April 16. The masks are made from twill and poplin materials in the CI inventory which are used to make staff and inmate uniforms.  

Craig Plyer (left) and Jim Rich stand next to bundles of sneeze guards produced at the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins. Wyoming Department of Corrections photo

Non-staff members, such as construction workers or vendors, will be given a disposable mask if they do not have one and be required to wear it at all times when they are inside a WDOC facility. Inmate visitations are still suspended at this time.  

Inmates within the CI program are also making clear plastic face shields and water resistant isolation gowns that might be used to supplement face masks in higher risk areas.  These will also be distributed should the need arise.  

The WDOC continues to practice other CDC recommendations such as monitoring the temperature of individuals entering the worksite, increasing sanitation efforts, and frequent hand washing. Many staff are teleworking from home when possible in order to help with social distancing inside facilities.  

Several Wyoming businesses have recently made donations to help the Department. NAPA Auto Parts in Riverton provided Corizon, the WDOC’s contract medical provider, with 60 pairs of Tyvek coveralls which can be used as personal protective equipment.

In addition, Pine Bluffs Distillery donated 20 cases of their homemade hand sanitizer to the department, and more is on the way. The WDOC is in the process of distributing the sanitizer to all facilities and field offices within its jurisdiction. The department is grateful to both businesses for their generosity.