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GOLDSBORO, N.C. — A North Carolina prison shut down so it could reassign workers and help another prison facing an outbreak of coronavirus, according to a news release.

On April 2, two offenders tested positive for COVID-19 at Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro.

After about 250 employees and 700 offenders were tested, the prison discovered 13 employees and more than 330 offenders were infected. About 98% of those who tested positive had no symptoms.

The prison is waiting for the results of another 197 tests.

“The staff at Neuse have been working in the toughest conditions, for weeks on end, and desperately needed support,” said Todd Ishee, commissioner of prisons. “They are owed everyone’s thanks for their commitment to serving the public, standing tall in their daily responsibilities and helping ensure safety of their co-workers and those in custody.”

Johnston Correction Institution, about 23 miles away, took drastic steps to free up workers to help those at the Goldsboro facility.

Johnston Correctional Institution is temporarily suspending operations and consulted with state health experts to strategically transfer about 600 offenders.

“No offenders from Neuse or any of those exhibiting any symptoms were transferred,” Commissioner Ishee said. “These very strategic moves were done in consultation with medical experts and completed by following CDC guidelines.”

The inmates were moved to Southern Correctional Institution in Troy and to the Burke Confinement in Response to Violation Center in Morganton

In turn, Southern Correctional Institution moved about 100 offenders to Tabor Correctional Institution in Columbus County to make room for the incoming offenders from Johnston Correctional.

All inmates transferred were screen and had their temperatures checked before they were transported and when they arrived. All were then put under a 14-day medical quarantine.

Staff at Neuse are receiving supplemental pay during this time, and the transferred staff from Johnston Correctional Institute will receive supplemental pay as well.

Commissioner Ishee added his extension of a deep appreciation to those Johnston Correctional staff for stepping up to aid their colleagues. He said many across the system have shown their tenacity and skill at helping manage a constantly changing situation during the unprecedented and ongoing event.