Testing Initiative Planned at Juvenile Facility in Concord Following Staff Report of COVID-19 Infection

CONCORD

Upon the advice of the Cabarrus Health Alliance, (Cabarrus County’s local health department), all juveniles at Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center will undergo COVID-19 testing over the next few days after a staff member there tested positive for the coronavirus.

A staff member at Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center has self-reported testing positive for coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Positive test results were reported to the facility by the employee on May 15, 2020.

The Juvenile Justice employee has been off the job since May 10, following notification to facility management of a potential exposure to the coronavirus. The individual became symptomatic on May 13, when the COVID-19 test swab was taken and sent to a lab for processing.

The Juvenile Justice section is following guidelines from the CDC, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and local health department in conducting contact tracing and notification procedures, as well as quarantine and cleaning protocols. All staff members believed to have had close contact with the individual will undergo quarantine and testing.

“When we learned of our staff member’s potential exposure earlier this week, we placed on quarantine two juvenile living units where potential contact could have occurred as a standard precaution,” said Peter Brown, director of Stonewall Jackson YDC. “We are monitoring the children on these units twice a day for fever and/or symptoms. Though to date no juveniles have displayed any symptoms associated with COVID-19, we are taking the step of testing all children out of an abundance of caution.”

Staff members at Stonewall Jackson YDC have also been offered testing through the local health department, or through an initiative announced earlier this week for free, confidential and convenient testing to all employees of the Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice.

To date, there have been no confirmed COVID-19 infections of children in North Carolina's Juvenile Justice facilities. It is important to note that social distancing is possible within juvenile detention centers and youth development centers. Juvenile detention centers, and individual living units within youth development centers, are comprised of a common area used for meals and recreation, along with individual rooms for each juvenile.

“We appreciate the quick and proactive assistance of the Cabarrus Health Alliance in this testing initiative at Stonewall Jackson YDC,” said William Lassiter, deputy secretary for Juvenile Justice. “Through implementation of operational changes during this pandemic, Juvenile Justice has been following strict policies and procedures to reduce the opportunities for the potential spread of the virus in all our facilities, and to protect the health and well-being of our staff and the children who are in our care.”

To date, some of these operational changes include:

  • Suspending visitation and volunteer activities at all juvenile justice facilities, until conditions are deemed safe. All non-essential volunteers, contractors, and vendors are prohibited from entry. Contractors/staff undergo screening procedures prior to entry.
  • Placing all juvenile detention center/crisis and assessment center admissions in medical room confinement for up to 14 days or until cleared by a medical provider to join the general population.
  • Screening all juveniles prior to transportation. If a juvenile is feverish or has a respiratory illness, the juvenile shall not be transported.
  • Placing into medical room confinement all juveniles in secure custody with symptoms while investigating the source of their medical issues. This is being done to prevent the spread of coronavirus if it emerges in the population.
  • Rescheduling all non-critical off-site medical appointments.
  • Presenting specific educational information and training at facilities for staff members and youths around COVID-19 safety precautions including washing of hands, social distancing, information about how the coronavirus is transmitted and wearing of face masks.
  • Posting informational literature in all facilities to stress the washing of hands and other preventive measures juveniles, staff and visitors can take to reduce the spread of diseases.
  • Decreasing the number of youths in detention through the utilization of electronic monitoring.
  • Suspending home visits for youth committed to a youth development center and deferring the requirement that a juvenile complete all pre‐release home visits before being release from a youth development center.
  • Increasing the number of phone calls permitted between juveniles and their families.
  • Increasing the use of telehealth services, to include the provision of mental health services.
  • Handling necessary court hearings via videoconference.

Here is additional information for DPS Actions in Juvenile Justice.

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