DOC announces additional coronavirus cases among inmates, correctional officers

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Delaware Department of Correction (DOC)

The Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) has announced that it has tested 45 inmates from a minimum housing unit at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC) where four other inmates have tested positive for the novel coronavirus over the past five days.

Of the 45 inmates tested, many with underlying medical issues, eight are positive. All eight inmates are asymptomatic, with no fever, cough or other known symptoms of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The tests were conducted at DOC’s request by its contract healthcare provider on Friday, with the results provided late Saturday evening.

Taking additional precautions, by midnight, seven of the eight inmates, who had been moved on Tuesday evening, April 7th, to single cells and provided face masks, were transported to the JTVCC COVID-19 treatment center building, along with two other COVID-19 positive inmates previously housed in the prison infirmary.

One inmate who tested positive last week remains in the hospital in stable condition, with non-life-threatening conditions and not on a ventilator. Another inmate who tested positive last week remains in the prison infirmary in stable condition, and another who tested positive over the weekend was taken to the hospital as a precaution for monitoring with no COVID-19 symptoms.

“Credit goes to DOC’s healthcare provider Centurion for expediting delivery of the COVID-19 tests and to our dedicated team of medical professionals who tested the at-risk inmates so that we could get the results turned around in less than 20 hours,” said DOC Commissioner Claire DeMatteis. “Had we not taken this preventative step, we may not have known for days, a week or longer, if ever, of these asymptomatic results.”

With only 12 inmates who have tested positive, DeMatteis said, “It is important to keep in perspective that with 4,200 inmates under DOC custody in Level V prison facilities, three-tenths of one percent have tested positive – all contained in one housing unit at one correctional facility. None are life-threatening and eight have no symptoms.”

DOC also announced today that one additional Correctional Officer has tested positive for COVID-19, bringing to 11 the total number of Correctional Officers to text positive for the illness.

A Correctional Officer, who is assigned to James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna. The Correctional Officer was last at the facility 9 days ago, on Friday, April 3.

After beginning to experience flu-like symptoms, the Officer began to self-isolate at home, and as symptoms developed the Officer sought medical attention, at which time a COVID-19 test was administered. The positive COVID-19 test result was received by the Officer on Thursday, April 9. The Officer is recovering at home at this time.

No additional information will be provided about the identity of the inmates and the Correctional Officer for privacy protection.

As part of the DOC’s COVID-19 operating procedures, each DOC correctional facility has identified housing units to serve as COVID-19 isolation and treatment centers to be used as needed to house and care for inmates who have tested positive for the illness.

The JTVCC COVID-19 treatment center, which is located in a vacant stand-alone building on the compound, was activated last night and is housing 9 inmates who have tested positive and do not require treatment in the prison infirmary or hospitalization. The inmates are being housed in single-bed cells and are receiving round-the-clock monitoring by healthcare and security staff.