Wyoming inmates making cloth masks, face shields - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Wyoming inmates making cloth masks, face shields

File; Kalub Mayes sews a sneeze guard at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington (Courtesy of the Wyoming Department of Corrections)

CASPER, Wyo. —  Inmates at Wyoming correctional facilities are working to make cloth masks and face shields, amid the coronavirus cause COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a statement from the Wyoming Department of Corrections, in the last two weeks, approximately 30 inmates from the Wyoming Women’s Center, the Wyoming State Penitentiary, and the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution 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 Program.  

The masks are made from twill and poplin materials in the CI inventory which are used to make staff and inmate uniforms.  

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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. 

“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,” said a Wyoming DOC statement.  “These will also be distributed should the need arise.”

To date, the WDOC says there have been no reported positive cases within the WDOC inmate population. 

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

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.  

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

The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:

What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.

If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.

Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.

For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: covid@cnchd.org

  • Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.