Mothers of inmates worried after sons test positive for COVID-19

Mothers of inmates worried after sons test positive for COVID-19
Mom of inmate worried after he test positive for COVID-19 (Source: Adam Mintzer)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As COVID-19 continues to surge in South Carolina, prisons have been no exception.

599 inmates among all South Carolina Department of Corrections facilities have tested positive, but Tyger River Correctional in Enoree, South Carolina has become a hot spot.

As of Saturday, 224 inmates were positive for COVID-19 at Tyger River, which is more than double the next highest facility’s case count.

Mary Bales’ son is one of those inmates who tested positive. Bales said her some is currently in quarantine and is asymptomatic. However, she is concerned what long-term impacts coronavirus may have on her son’s health and worries about his treatment while he’s in isolation.

“With COVID you’ve heard different stories so you never know what can change in that time,” she said. “Being isolated, not having enough food, [and] you know whatever else I don’t know what else he deals within there. He only tells me what he tells me,” Bales said.

Chrysti Shain with the South Carolina Department of Corrections said Tyger River has a lot of cases because inmates have more shared areas and are able to move around the facility more freely than those at other facilities. Shain also said the schedule for meals is the same for those out of quarantine than those that are isolated. In addition to saying, SCDC gives inmates all appropriate care for COVID-19 symptoms.

Bales added she worries for her son’s mental health because she said he is being moved around constantly and dealing with a drastic change in routine.

Dorothy Neely shares a lot of those same concerns. Her son also tested positive while incarcerated at Tyger River, but has since been cleared and allowed to leave quarantine. But she is still nervous for him because he’s diabetic and now back in regular close contact with other inmates.

A friend of his passed away at Tyger River. It’s just scary. My son has less than three years left. If they’d just let him come home on a monitor. He says prison is so bad at…just send some of them home,” Neely said.

Shain said the Department of Corrections can’t release an inmate until their time in prison is finished, and that remains up to the court system.

For up to date information on COVID-19 cases at SCDC visit

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