COVID-19 Testing Begins for All Offenders at Caswell Correctional Data and Evidence Prompts Mass Testing at Prison

Raleigh

To protect staff and offenders, Division of Prisons officials today initiated the testing of all 420 offenders at Caswell Correctional Center, as well as continuing to provide testing access and to encourage staff to be tested. Data and previous experience at Neuse Correctional Institution prompted the decision to test all offenders at the facility.

“This data-driven decision and strategy is the result of a strong collaborative and coordinated effort with the Department of Health and Human Services,” said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons. “We will do all we can to stamp out this stubborn outbreak at Caswell Correctional with hard work and strict attention to medical protocols. We have done it before at Neuse and we will do it again.”

COVID-19 tests swabs will be taken from the entire offender population at the facility. The results from LabCorp are expected by the beginning of next week.

When the results are in, anticipated actions include:

  • Placing newly positive offenders in medical isolation
  • Separating offenders who test negative and keeping them in medical quarantine in cohorts while their health conditions are closely monitored.
  • Disinfecting thoroughly all facility offices and dormitories with industrial-strength Power Breezers.
  • Elevating hand hygiene regimens and strictly enforcing the wearing of face masks by all staff and offenders.

The data-driven decision to test the entire offender population at the prison was based on 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.

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 that prison have met DHHS and Centers for Disease Control criteria to be presumed recovered.

Since mid-April, a total of 19 of the 420 offenders at Caswell Correctional have tested positive and 19 of the 136 staff assigned to the dormitory-style prison have tested positive.

An additional factor in the decision to test the entire Caswell Correctional offender population: Previous symptom-based testing has revealed positive results in offenders housed in 12 of the prison’s 14 dormitories. This is an indication the virus is not confined to limited sections of the prison.

“The safety of the staff and the offenders throughout the state prison system absolutely remains our top priority,” Ishee said. “This is a nasty virus that poses significant challenges. It is sneaky, highly contagious and difficult to contain because people may have it and not know it and spread it unwittingly to others. We will address this problem at Caswell.”

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

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