Woman voices concerns over jail health conditions as COVID-19 continues to spread

As other states plan to release thousands of non-violent offenders ahead of schedule to slow the spread of COVID-19, that's not happening in Arizona.

Now, as two Arizona inmates test positive for COVID-19, the loved one of another inmate is speaking out.

Jeanine Villanueva says the Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry isn't doing enough to keep those incarcerated safe. Her fiancé was sentenced for burglaries, and is incarcerated at Lewis State Prison in Bucket. 

"He's concerned because I’m getting concerned," said Villanueva. 

Villanueva says her fiancé is being exposed to the dozens of employees coming in and out. What's even more concerning is she claims inmates can't use hand sanitizer.

"Hand sanitizer contains alcohol, so they can’t have that, so they're given like -- sometimes, they’re given just rags with bleach on it," said Villanueva.

Villanueva says they barely have hygiene supplies.

"They're out of soap. There's no toilet paper. There’s just a lot of things that they’re saying that they’re doing and it’s not the case, from what I’m hearing," said Villanueva.

Villanueva says her fiancé's cellmate was sick for two weeks, and was denied treatment. Villanueva wrote letters to Gov. Doug Ducey and officials.

"Finally, once I got involved, then that’s when they finally had somebody come down personally and test his cell mate but not him," said Villanueva.

Out of 42,000 total Arizona prisoners, two are confirmed to be positive with COVID-19. In the meantime, of the 60 have been tested, 48 came out negative and ten are pending.

Villanueva believes this is just the first wave.

“I’m hoping that they’re gonna start implementing what we’re all doing: trying to keep people separated, not spreading too much but also being able to contact their families just to let them know they’re OK," said Villanueva.

On Tuesday, officials with ADCRR released a statement on the two confirmed COVID-19 cases. The statement reads, in part:

"Like many correctional systems nationwide, the department has experience managing infectious diseases at its facilities and is taking proactive measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the inmate population. Following CDC guidelines, ADCRR also continues to communicate with staff and inmates about how they can reduce the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19"

Also on Tuesday, ADCRR officials say more than 8,000 face coverings have been made by inmates for prison employees.

"This will protect them and our inmates while preserving PPE for correction officers in the event of a COVID-19 spread in our prisons," said Gov. Ducey.

Despite video released by state officials showing female prisoners wearing masks while they work, Villanueva says inmates at Lewis are not getting masks.

"For my sake he makes sure that he’s being proactive because I would like him to come home healthy and not in a body bag," said Villanueva.

FOX 10 is working to keep you up to date with local and national developments on COVID-19. Every weekday on FOX News Now, our live coverage begins at 7 a.m. MST reporting the latest news, prevention tips and treatment information.

You can watch live in your FOX 10 News app or on the FOX 10 Facebook page.

Get the latest coronavirus news by downloading the FOX 10 News App. Our promise is that our alerts are there to inform you - not scare you.

You can also get the latest coronavirus news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com

Additional resources

LIVE: Interactive Coronavirus case data and map

FULL COVERAGE: fox10phoenix.com/coronavirus

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - How it spreads, symptoms, prevention, treatment, FAQ


https://espanol.cdc.gov/enes/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html (In Spanish/En Español)

Arizona COVID-19 Response - Public resources, FAQ, webinars


https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/es/covid-19/index.php#novel-coronavirus-home (In Spanish/En Español)

Related stories

Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers

Social distancing: What to do and what not to do to slow the spread of COVID-19

Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms