NC officials complete mass testing at 2nd prison; 31 inmates test positive

Caswell Correctional Center as seen from this snapshot by Google Earth (Source: Google Earth)

Caswell Correctional Center as seen from this snapshot by Google Earth (Source: Google Earth)

YANCEYVILLE, N.C. — NC officials released the results of Friday’s mass COVID-19 testing at the Caswell Correctional Center, saying 31 inmates have tested positive for the virus.

The full statement from the NC Department of Public Safety is provided below:

“An additional 31 asymptomatic offenders at Caswell Correctional Center have tested positive for COVID-19, as part of a mass testing operation conducted on Friday by the Division of Prisons.

A total of 374 offenders tested negative, meaning 7.7 percent of the 405 offenders tested were asymptomatic yet positive for the virus.

“Our mitigation and containment strategies appeared to have been effective at reducing the spread of this awful virus,” said Todd Ishee, the Commissioner of Prisons. “Despite some progress, we continue to have work to do to stop this outbreak in its tracks at the prison.”

In light of the test results, the following actions were taken:

  • Newly positive offenders were placed in medical isolation
  • Offenders who tested negative were placed in 14-day medical quarantine in cohorts while their health conditions are closely monitored, including daily temperature checks.

The decision to test the entire offender population at the prison was made in collaboration with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and was based on data that revealed a gradual increase in the number of offenders who tested positive for COVID-19 through symptom-based testing, as well as a gradual increase in the number of staff who either self-reported testing positive for the virus or who tested positive in a Caswell County Health Department-offered voluntary testing initiative that began on May 8. Free testing for all Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice employees, which includes the Division of Prisons, is offered on a voluntary basis until July 31. 

A similar mass-testing of the offender population was conducted at Neuse Correctional in Goldsboro in April and revealed an extensive outbreak of coronavirus, mostly in offenders who never showed any symptoms, that was then contained.

All current offenders at Neuse Correctional, as well as nine offenders who previously tested positive at Caswell Correctional, have met DHHS and Centers for Disease Control criteria to be presumed recovered. A total of 43 offenders housed at the Caswell Correctional currently have active cases of COVID-19.

“As the world has discovered, this is a highly contagious disease that is extremely difficult to completely contain,” Ishee said. “We will continue doing all we can to protect the health of the staff and the 31,200 offenders in our custody.”

The Division of Prisons has taken more than four dozen actions to prevent COVID-19 from getting into the prisons, and to contain it within a facility if it does and to prevent its spread to other prisons.

Those actions, along with the current public information on the number of offenders who have tested positive for the virus statewide and the number who are now presumed recovered, can be found here: https://www.ncdps.gov/our-organization/adult-correction/prisons/prisons-info-covid-19.”

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