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Over 100 COVID-19 cases reported at Washington state prison

June 13, 2020 GMT

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A prison in Washington state is restricting movement in its medium-security unit after more than 100 officers and inmates tested positive for COVID-19.

More than 1,800 of the 2,248 inmates at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center are in quarantine because of potential exposure to the coronavirus, the state Department of Corrections said.

The announcement came after 30 corrections officers and 71 inmates tested positive, department officials said, adding that another 33 people exhibited potential symptoms.

“The health and safety of Corrections staff, the incarcerated individuals, and the citizens in the community remains our top priority,” department secretary Stephen Sinclair said.

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For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and lead to death.

The department told The Spokesman-Review earlier this week that there are no plans to test all inmates but that the rate of testing for symptomatic people has increased.

Coyote Ridge, located in Connell about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Spokane, has minimum- and medium-security units. The minimum-security unit is not on restricted movement, officials said.

Restrictions are necessary because of “the number of positive cases of COVID-19 and the limited access to emergency medical services and hospital care nearby,” Sinclair said.

Food production and textile work was also suspended at the facility. The prison is now working with outside vendors to feed inmates.