Second correctional officer tests positive for COVID-19

No inmates have the disease, commissioner says
April 5, 2020

A second correctional officer assigned to James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, and a healthcare worker have tested positive for COVID-19. 

The correctional officer last worked March 31 in the maximum security housing area, and later that same day began experiencing flu-like symptoms, said Deputy Bureau Chief of Prisons Paul Shavack. The officer sought medical attention, a COVID-19 test was administered, and the officer has continued to isolate at home Shavack said.  

The positive COVID-19 test result was received late afternoon April 4, and later verified by the DOC, Shavack said. Employees who worked in close contact with this officer over the past 14 days have been notified to self-isolate and monitor themselves for symptoms of the virus. 

Shavack said this officer likely had contact while in the maximum security housing area with the first officer who tested positive for COVID-19 on April 3. That officer, who was last at JTVCC on March 27, began self-isolating at home on March 28 after beginning to experience flu-like symptoms, and was found COVID-19 positive April 3.

Both officers are continuing to self-isolate and are recovering at home.

For privacy protection, the identity of the correctional officers will not be provided, Shavack said.

"The DOC is acting swiftly at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center and across our facilities to confront the risks of COVID-19, with new protective and quarantine measures on top of the rigorous prevention and screening practices that have been in place for several weeks," said Department of Correction Commissioner Claire DeMatteis. 

No inmate within Delaware's correctional system has tested positive for COVID-19, officials said.

On April 5, Shavack said two contract behavioral healthcare workers - one assigned to JTVCC and one assigned to Howard R. Young Correctional Institution - have tested positive for COVID-19. The behavioral healthcare worker at Vaughn was last at that facility March 26, he said. The worker sought medical attention for flu-like symptoms April 1, at which time a COVID-19 test was administered. On April 2, a healthcare worker assigned to New Castle County Community Corrections was diagnosed positive for COVID-19. That contract healthcare worker has not been in a DOC facility for 18 days – more than the 15-day incubation period of the illness – and has since recovered, Shavack said.

Officers and healthcare workers who worked in close contact with these behavioral healthcare workers are being given guidance on self isolation, Shavack said. The DOC is employing specialized cleaning equipment to decontaminate areas in both facilities and is carefully monitoring all officers, other employees and inmates at JTVCC and HRYCI for any symptoms and will immediately isolate, assess and treat any individual who demonstrates any sign of illness, he said.

"In addition to rigorous prevention protocols, screening of every person who enters every correctional facilities, and multiple cleanings each day across our facilities, the DOC has implemented targeted quarantine where necessary and also deployed new protective measures, including specialized equipment to decontaminate prison areas," DeMatteis said. “I want to emphasize that no inmate within Delaware's correctional system has tested positive for COVID-19.”

Shavack said the DOC is carefully monitoring all officers, other employees and inmates at JTVCC for any symptoms and will immediately isolate, assess and treat any individual who demonstrates any sign of illness. Additionally, DOC is taking the following steps to mitigate the COVID-19 risk to the JTVCC maximum security housing area where the two officers worked:   

  • Inmates and staff are undergoing twice daily symptom checks, including a temperature check with a thermometer.
  • Inmate movement is being further limited, and inmates will recreate individually in an isolated area.
  • All officers are required to wear face masks and gloves at all times to protect officers, medical staff and inmates.
  • Additional deep cleaning of the maximum security housing area.

The DOC maintains robust COVID-19 screening and cleaning practices as part of an infectious disease management plan. Shavack said.  All persons entering any DOC facility are screened for COVID-19, including a series of questions and a forehead temperature check with a digital thermometer. Staff who present with symptoms are sent home to self-quarantine and contact their health care provider in accordance with the established Delaware Department of Correction COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedure. Newly arriving inmates to DOC facilities are isolated from the rest of the inmate population for 14-days while being monitored for symptoms of respiratory infection, he said.

Get the latest news and information about the DOC’s response to COVID-19 on and follow DOC at decorrection on Facebook and Twitter.




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