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Five staff members at Albemarle Correctional Institution test positive for COVID-19

Five members of the Albemarle Correctional Institution recently tested positive for COVID-19, according to John Bull, communications officer for North Carolina’s prison system.

The officers are off the job and being treated by primary care physicians. Bull said no prisoners have tested positive for the virus.

Contact tracing is underway at the facility to determine others who have had exposure with the five staff members.

Health Department Director David Jenkins confirmed the news that five people at ACI had contracted the virus.

Since the pandemic began, Bull said, 152 of the roughly 14,000 N.C. Prisons employees have either self-reported testing positive through their testing provider of choice or have tested positive through mass staff testing at Neuse Correctional or Caswell Correctional, or through the state-wide FastMed/LabCorp partnership.

According to data listed on the Department of Public Safety website, 2,357 tests have been performed on offenders in correctional facilities across the state. Six offenders have been tested at ACI, though none tested positive. Of the total number of offenders tested, 707 have contracted the virus.

NCDPS has taken measures to ensure the safety of the prisons. In mid-March, visitation and volunteering at the prisons were suspended while medical screenings for personnel, such as contractors, vendors and legal visitors, were enacted. On April 6, the prison system reduced offender transfers between prisons while distributing additional personal protective equipment, including washable face masks to all staff and offenders at three prisons where outbreaks occurred.

This week, NCDPS extended temporary pandemic emergency pay for staff who work in a prison facility through June.

Every Tuesday and Friday by 4 p.m., the state updates outbreaks in congregate living settings, which include nursing homes, residential care facilities and correctional facilities. An outbreak is defined as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases.

As of Friday, the state had 41,249 confirmed cases along with 1,092 deaths, according to data from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. A total of 595,697 people have been tested, which has resulted in 10 percent testing positive.

Of the total cases, North Carolina had 1,500 of which were reported at correctional facilities around the state. There are currently COVID-19 outbreaks in 19 correctional facilities, which have been associated with 23 coronavirus-related deaths.
Stanly has two ongoing outbreaks in congregate living settings. Bethany Woods Nursing and Rehabilitation Center had one staff member and one resident recently test positive for the virus while Woodhaven Court had two staff members test positive.
NCDHHS also details a list of facilities that have already had outbreaks, which are now considered “over.” Spring Arbor of Albemarle, which had five residents and a staff member contract the virus, with three residents dying, was on the list.
An outbreak is considered over “if there is not evidence of continued transmission within the facility.” It is measured as 28 days “after the latest date of onset in a symptomatic person or the latest date of specimen collection in an asymptomatic person, whichever is later.”
N.C. has seen an increase in confirmed cases over the past several weeks, especially since Memorial Day weekend. Hospitalizations have also gradually increased with 812 people hospitalized on Thursday, the highest total in the past month. The number declined to 760 people on Friday.
Stanly has 151 confirmed cases and four deaths, according to the health department.
“Cases continue to rise, similar to the previous 2 weeks,” said Wendy Growcock, public health education specialist.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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