About a third of all inmates at Sussex Correctional test positive for coronavirus

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About a third of all inmates at Sussex Correctional Institution have tested positive for Covid-19, with only 10 percent showing symptoms.

All973 inmates have been tested for the virus.

Also, 17 inmates at Morris Community Corrections Center (MCCC) in Doverhave tested positive for COVID-19. The MCCC cluster of cases originated with the transfer of three Sussex inmates.

Of the 320 inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19, 90 percent (288 inmates) are asymptomatic, while 10 percent (32) are showing any symptoms. Four of those 32 inmatesare in area hospitals receiving treatment in stable condition and noneare on a ventilator.

In addition, 21SCI officers have tested positive for the disease, and another 18SCI officers are in self-quarantine awaiting COVID-19 test results.

The DOC offered voluntary testing for all SCI officers due to the high rate of community spread in Sussex County. Voluntary testing also was offered to MCCC officers, with no officers testing positive from that facility.

“This infectious disease predominately hit three open dormitory-style housing units at SCI. While the number of inmates who have tested positive at SCI is a big number, 90 percent of the inmates have no symptoms. Our proactive testing is working to identify inmates and officers who may be silent spreaders of the virus,”Commissioner Claire DeMatteis said.“We have isolated the inmates with the illness in our COVID-19 Treatment Centers where they are receiving round-the-clock monitoring and care by medical professionals. We are taking extraordinary measures to protect and treat our inmates and staff and reduce the risk of new infections, including unprecedented relocation of inmates to different housing units at SCI and extensive specialized decontamination cleanings to contain further spread of the virus.”

Except for at SCI and MCCC, there are no COVID-19 cases among inmates at the remaining seven DOC Level IV and Level V facilities.

Two weeks ago, immediately after three SCIinmates showed symptoms of COVID-19 infection and tested positive for the illness, theDOC initiated contact tracing toidentify andisolate individuals who came into sustained contact with these inmates.

After additional positive inmate test results were received theDOC implemented aggressive mitigation efforts on top of its exiting rigorousCOVID-19 protocols, a release stated.

Due to the continued rate of infection in the community, DOC is temporarily suspending visitation across all DOC facilities, effectivemidnight on Tuesday, July 14.This measure is being taken as a precaution to reduce the risk of transmission from the community and also to direct correctional staff to core safety and security functions.

Nearly three dozen other SCI inmates who tested COVID-negative and who are over 60 years old and/or have underlying health issues have been temporarily transferred from SCI to a vacant building at James T. Vaughn center near Smyrna.

Currently across all correctional facilities, 35 DOC staff and 8 healthcare contractorshave tested positive for COVID-19,while 87 DOC staff and healthcare contractors assigned to DOC facilitieshave recovered from the illness.

Face masks have been provided to every inmate at all Level V prison and Level IV work release and violation of probation facilities statewide, more than 4,300 in total, a Department of Corrections release stated.

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