COVID-19 outbreak hits North Carolina women’s prison
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Authorities announced on Monday that 45 inmates tested positive for COVID-19 this past weekend at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh.
A total of 227 offenders within a housing unit were tested, and testing for the entire facility will soon be conducted, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety said.
Data from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services shows 19 coronavirus outbreaks in all correctional facilities located in North Carolina through late last week. A total of 1,710 cases have been reported statewide, with 29 inmates dying as a result of the virus. The Department of Public Safety has reported 880 positive cases among offenders at state prisons since the pandemic began, with five deaths.
Following a court mandate ordering the state to create a plan, North Carolina unveiled a proposal in June to test all inmates and staff members in state prisons. Todd Ishee, commissioner of prisons for the state, said at the time it would take at least at least 60 days to perform COVID-19 tests for all 31,200 offenders.
“Our priority is everyone’s health and their safety, and I mean everyone,” Ishee said in a June news conference.
The announcement of another prison outbreak comes as the state saw its highest number of current COVID-19 hospitalizations to date at 982. On Friday, North Carolina had hit new highs in hospitalizations, number of lab-confirmed coronavirus cases and the percentage of tests that came back positive.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.