Prisons Leadership Initiates Increased COVID-19 Testing at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women

RALEIGH

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety is increasing its efforts to contain and reduce the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women (NCCIW) in Raleigh. A testing operation occurred at five dorms in one housing unit over the weekend, testing all 161 offenders in the Canary Unit. 

A report of test results verified today indicated a total of 70 offenders at the facility have tested positive; a majority of those are showing no symptoms associated with the coronavirus.

Fewer than a dozen test results are pending. The testing done over the weekend was at the Canary Unit, which is a compound separate from the rest of the prison. 

The testing was conducted in consultation with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Wake County Health Department.

“The safety of our staff and those in our custody is our top priority. We are constantly assessing and communicating with our medical staff and public health professionals to make informed decisions,” said Commissioner of Prisons Todd Ishee.

Decisions to conduct large-scale testing for COVID-19 are made jointly in consultation with DHHS following CDC guidance.

Prior to this weekend’s testing, 10 offenders in NCCIW tested positive for COVID-19. They were placed in isolation in accordance with Centers for Disease Control guidelines and provided any necessary advanced medical care.

Based upon the test results, Prisons is enacting its contingency plan to do to the following in accordance with CDC guidelines:

  • Separating the offenders who have tested positive from the offenders who tested negative.
  • Isolating all offenders in a group who have tested positive in two dorms.
  • Quarantining in three dorms for 14 days the offenders who have tested negative, with close monitoring of their health and twice daily temperature checks.
  • Ensuring staff do not mix between the positive and negative dorms.

COVID-19 tests will be offered to staff through a statewide initiative by the state employee’s health care plan.

All offenders at the prison, as well as the entire staff, have been issued face masks. Ample supplies of soap and disinfectant are on hand and cleaning regimens have been increased.

For weeks, the prison has operated with restricted offender movement designed to prevent offenders from mixing with those in other housing units, an initiative intended to contain the virus if it should emerge in the offender population.

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

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

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