First inmate in North Carolina state prison custody tests positive for COVID-19

First inmate in North Carolina state prison custody tests positive for COVID-19
Officials say an inmate at the minimum custody unit of the Caledonia Correctional Complex in Tillery, NC has tested positive for coronavirus. (Source: KFVS)

HALIFAX COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Officials say an inmate at the minimum custody unit of the Caledonia Correctional Complex in Tillery, NC has tested positive for coronavirus. This is the first positive COVID-19 test of someone in custody at a North Carolina state prison.

“We have prepared long and hard for this day,” said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons. “This is not a surprise and we are following the infectious disease protocols we have in place for exactly this type of situation. Our top priority is the health and safety of our staff and the men and women in our care.”

The inmate is in isolation at the prison and is being treated by the licensed medical staff assigned to the facility.

The inmate showed symptoms of a viral infection on March 24. He was promptly quarantined from the population and tested for COVID-19 the next day. The test came back positive on April 1. He is in stable condition.

Officials say precautions have been taken to prevent anyone else from becoming infected by the virus. Contact tracing is also underway to identify persons who may have had unprotected contact with the offender within six feet over a span of 10 minutes.

Those individuals will be monitored and tested for COVID-19 as warranted, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

Also, in accordance with CDC guidelines, the entire minimum unit has been placed on quarantine, with no movements of inmates to or from the prison unless for critical need.

The housing dorm where the inmate was assigned was placed on lockdown except for appropriately regulated recreational time. Inamtes within this housing assignment will be served meals in their dorm.

All inmates and staff are being issued masks to wear. An additional shipment of masks and other personal protective equipment has been dispatched to the prison, and additional sanitation regimens are also underway.

The individual who tested positive is a male in his 60s.

For the past month, officials say inmates throughout the prison system with fevers, coughs and symptoms of respiratory illness have been quarantined from the prison general population.

In addition, new inmates to the state prison system are quarantined for 14 days following initial medical screening for potential COVID-19 symptoms, in order to prevent the introduction of the virus into a facility.

Inmate transportation movements are limited to only court-ordered, high priority and health care movements. Transported inmates are medically screened both before and after getting on the bus.

Testing for COVID-19 is being done per the recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control.

Officials say the North Carolina Division of Prisons has taken a substantial number of additional actions to prepare for the emergence of COVID-19 in the state prisons and, to reduce the chances it could spread. # # #

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