Major COVID-19 outbreak reported at state prison in Avery County

70 inmates test positive for COVID-19 in Avery County

SPRUCE PINE, N.C. (WBTV ) - A state prison unit at the Avery County-Mitchell County line has seen a major spike in COVID-19 cases.

A total of 70 inmates and three staffers have tested positive in recent days at the Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution.

The facility, with 800 inmates, has taken steps, according to officials, to keep the outbreak from spreading.

The three staffers are in isolation away from the facility and the 70 inmates inside the walls have been segregated from the rest of the prison population.

John Bull of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety says extensive medical protocols are in place and those who need medical help are getting it.

They are in a section of the prison where they cannot mix with the general population.

“It is a lot of trouble,” Bull said. “It is very necessary to make sure this doesn’t spread like wildfire in the prison population.”

This is the second outbreak at the facility. In July, six inmates tested positive when the entire population there was tested.

Officials do not believe that outbreak is connected to the new one but are not sure how the virus entered the prison population in either case.

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