Miami Correctional Facility

Miami Correctional Facility. Photo provided.

BUNKER HILL – Miami Correctional Facility is on lockdown after nearly 60 inmates and five prison workers tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.

James Frye, the prison’s public information officer, said new cases were discovered last week, prompting a COVID strike team from the Indiana Department of Health to come to the facility over the weekend to do rapid testing.

On Tuesday, testing results showed 15 inmates and eight workers had contracted the virus. On Wednesday, those numbers jumped to 60 offenders and 10 staff.

Before the weekend, only two inmates and five staff in total had tested positive since the Indiana Department of Correction started testing for COVID.

On Wednesday, 238 inmates were in quarantine, and one was being held in isolation. The total prison population sits at around 3,100.

Frye said all quarantining is being done in one area of the prison, but the entire facility is on lockdown.

He said those who are symptomatic or test positive will be held in quarantine for 14 days, and released back into the general prison population once they test negative.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure everyone is safe and healthy, including the staff and offenders,” Frye said.

He said increased testing will continue at the prison as needed. The IDOC said it is testing those with symptoms and exposure risk based on “clinical decision making and in a targeted manner in accordance with CDC guidelines.”

In total, 75 inmates and 25 staff workers have been tested.

In response to the outbreak, all common areas within the facility are being cleaned on a continual basis, according to the IDOC’s response plan approved in March. High-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, and surfaces in and around toilets, are being cleaned on a more frequent schedule.

Offenders with an infectious disease are not be transferred to an infirmary unless serious complications develop, and the offender cannot be cared for in alternative housing, according to the response plan. Offenders who demonstrate more severe symptoms may require hospitalization.

Personal items such as dishes, clothing and linens of those who are sick do not have to be cleaned separately, but they are not being shared without thorough washing.

The COVID outbreak comes after the Indiana Army National Guard deployed to Miami Correctional Facility the second week of August to help operate the prison following staffing shortages caused, in part, by the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the Indiana Department of Correction, units from both the Army and Air national guards have been deployed to state prisons since May following the coronavirus outbreak.

“Like so many other employers across Indiana, the Indiana Department of Correction has been impacted by members of the workforce contracting the COVID-19 virus,” the IDOC said in a release. “While other businesses may be able to operate with a reduction in their workforce, the unique duties performed by correctional staff must continue with proper staffing levels.”

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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Carson Gerber is a reporter for the Kokomo Tribune and can be reached at 765-854-6739, or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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