DOC continues testing inmates, staff for COVID-19

April 13, 2020

The Department of Corrections has tested 45 inmates in a Smyrna prison with eight who are positive for COVID-19.

The inmates were housed in a minimum housing unit at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center where four other inmates have tested positive for the novel coronavirus over the past five days, said Jason Miller, spokesman for the DOC. Of the 45 inmates tested, Miller said, many have underlying medical issues, and eight are positive. All eight inmates are asymptomatic, with no fever, cough or other known symptoms of the virus, he said.

The tests were conducted at DOC’s request by its contract healthcare provider April 10, and results were provided April 11. Miller said seven inmates were transported to the JTVCC COVID-19 treatment center building, along with two other COVID-19 positive inmates previously housed in the prison infirmary. One inmate who tested positive last week remains in the hospital in stable condition, with nonlife-threatening conditions, Miller said, and is not on a ventilator. One inmate who tested positive last week remains in the prison infirmary in stable condition, he said, and another who tested positive last evening has no symptoms, but was taken to the hospital as a precaution

“Credit goes to DOC’s healthcare provider Centurion for expediting delivery of the COVID-19 tests and to our dedicated team of medical professionals who tested the at-risk inmates so that we could get the results turned around in less than 20 hours,”said DOC Commissioner Claire DeMatteis. “Had we not taken this preventative step, we may not have known for days, a week or longer, if ever, of these asymptomatic results.”

Twelve inmates have tested positive, DeMatteis said, a number that represents three-tenths of 1 percent of the 4,200 inmates in Level V prison facilities.

One additional correctional officer has tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 11 of officers who have positive for the illness, Miller said.

Each DOC correctional facility has identified housing units to serve as COVID-19 isolation and treatment centers to be used as needed to house and care for inmates who have tested positive for the illness, Miller said. The JTVCC COVID-19 treatment center, which is located in a vacant stand-alone building on the compound, was activated last night and is housing nine inmates who have tested positive and do not require treatment in the prison infirmary or hospitalization. These inmates are being housed in single-bed cells and are receiving round-the-clock monitoring by healthcare and security staff.                                                                                                                                  


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