More cases of COVID-19 for NDCS

Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 8:28 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KSNB) - The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) announced Thursday more positive cases of COVID-19 among staff members and inmates.

NDCS said four staff members, employed at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, tested positive for the virus. They are self-isolating at home.

This brings the total number of NDCS staff members diagnosed with COVID-19 to 76. Sixty-one of those individuals have recovered from COVID-19.

Meanwhile additional inmates are positive for COVID-19 at the Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP) and the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center (DEC) following testing at both of those facilities.

This was the second testing opportunity provided to inmates at the state penitentiary in the past two weeks. Of 453 tests administered this week, 82 have returned positive so far. A handful of tests are still outstanding.

“Testing included those who tested previously at NSP as well as those who volunteered to be tested for the first time,” said NDCS Director Scott R. Frakes.

Testing was initiated at the penitentiary on August 28 when an inmate in a minimum security housing unit became positive. Following the diagnosis of additional cases, the entire facility was placed on quarantine.

“We have expanded the space utilized for medical isolation in order to best manage current and emerging positive cases,” said Dir. Frakes. “By doing that, we hope to return the higher security housing units to normal operations in the next day or so, thereby ending the facility-wide quarantine.”

At DEC, 15 inmates have been diagnosed as positive for COVID-19 since testing was conducted at the facility last week.

“Managing those who are healthy, COVID-positive and individuals who may have symptoms involves a lot of moving parts. It is certainly not the most convenient situation for those living in NSP or DEC. But, inmates living in both facilities have been very cooperative as we have taken necessary steps to reduce spread of the virus.”

Dir. Frakes added that because testing is an ongoing process, it is likely that additional cases of coronavirus will emerge.

“As in the community, this is a very fluid situation and we need to stay nimble to ever-changing circumstances. Until we know where we stand with this illness, we will continue to keep visitation closed as a means to reduce further transmission of COVID-19.”

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