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Idaho prison inmate tests positive for COVID-19, along with several staff, IDOC says


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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) –The Idaho Department of Correction announced Wednesday it had its first confirmed case of coronavirus at one of its prisons, the Idaho State Correctional Center.

ISCC is a men’s prison in Kuna that, as of Wednesday, is home to 2,103 male inmates. IDOC Director Josh Tewalt made the announcement in an update online.

“At (1 p.m.) we were notified a person in custody at ISCC tested positive for COVID-19,” Tewalt wrote. “The individual who tested positive became symptomatic (Tuesday) and has been in isolation since reporting the symptoms to medical.”

All movement into, out of and within the facility is restricted while an investigation is underway, according Tewalt’s update. The investigation will determine what areas beyond the individual’s tier will need to be quarantined. Additionally, staff who may have had contact with the individual also are being notified.

“In the past 10 days, we’ve had 44 staff unable to report to work because of potential exposure, and 18 of those have come in the last three days,” Tewalt said.

IDOC also had three additional staff test positive for COVID-19 — two of those were at the Idaho State Correctional Institution, a different men’s prison in Kuna that holds about 1,400 inmates, and one was at ISCC, where the inmate tested positive.

Any staff who may have had significant contact with individuals who tested positive have been notified, instructed to self-quarantine and must take appropriate precautions, according to IDOC.

In addition to the men who live at ISCC, there are a little over 400 staff between contractors and IDOC employees who work at ISCC. “On any given day an average of approximately 150 come through in a 24-hour period,” according to IDOC spokesperson Jeff Ray.

The governor’s office was notified of the coronavirus patient.

“As one of the last states to have a confirmed coronavirus case in our inmate population, the Idaho Department of Correction has had several months to prepare for a positive case and take the necessary precautions to reduce the likelihood of spread,” Gov. Brad Little said in a written statement. “The health and safety of the inmates in the state’s custody, as well as the state employees who work with them, is paramount. I am confident that the plan IDOC has in place will meet the health and safety needs of all at IDOC.”

IDOC has made efforts to prepare for the pandemic, setting up testing plans, making masks mandatory and isolating incoming inmates. The department has also been making masks for every inmate and staff member to wear.