A new cluster of positive covid-19 cases have emerged at one of Delaware’s largest correctional facilities as a result of contact tracing and proactive testing officials said Friday night.
Dover (DE) After six weeks with no inmates testing positive for COVID-19 in any of the state’s correctional facilities, the Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) today announced it is tracking a new cluster of positive cases among the inmate population at Sussex Correctional Institution (SCI) in Georgetown, which marks the first sign of the disease at SCI since the pandemic started in early March., according to a news release.
Officials say that three inmates at SCI this week showed symptoms of COVID-19 infection and tested positive. The correctional center staff immediately initiated contact tracing to identify, isolate and proactively test individuals who came into sustained contact with these inmates. As a result, an additional 22 inmates have tested positive., the release said.
“This is why we continue to contact trace, proactively test, and closely monitor our inmate population as part of our comprehensive COVID-19 mitigation strategy to guard against the spread of the novel coronavirus,” Commissioner Claire DeMatteis said.
Twenty of the latest test results at SCI came from rapid COVID testing employed by DOC in collaboration with the Delaware Division of Public Health. Of the 25 current COVID-positive inmates across Delaware’s correctional system, 17 are asymptomatic and 8 are symptomatic. Twenty-three have been transferred to the JTVCC COVID-19 Treatment Center, while 2 are being treated in stable condition in area hospitals.
Contact tracing and proactive inmate testing are continuing at SCI, including twice-daily temperature checks and screenings for more inmates in three housing areas. No additional information will be provided about the identity of the inmates for privacy protection.
Currently 9 DOC staff across all DOC facilities and one healthcare contractor assigned to a DOC facility have tested positive for COVID-19, while 87 DOC staff and healthcare contractors assigned to DOC facilities have recovered from the illness.
Certain programs, including treatment and education programs and religious programming, have been transitioned to a virtual video format. Inmates continue to have outside recreation opportunities within their confined areas and continue to have access to phones to stay in regular contact with their loved ones. DOC is also expanding the use of electronic tablets among the inmate population, where available.
This isn’t the only cluster of new cases in Delaware. The number of positive covid-19 cases continue to rise in Delaware, specifically in Sussex County in the beach areas.
While Thursday saw 221 additional positive cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Delaware, as well as one additional fatality related to COVID-19, Friday saw 73 additional positive cases. No additional deaths were reported Friday and 54 individuals are currently hospitalized, 13 of whom are critically ill.
It’s no surprise that covid-19 in Sussex County is increasing. For the past several weeks, the new positive case counts have been increasing at a slow rate. That was until senior week activities happened at the beach. Now officials say the cluster of new cases are alarming.
“We are extremely concerned by yet another cluster of COVID-19 cases in the beach area and the potential for spread to others both at work and in social gatherings,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We know that some of the positive persons have been at parties recently, potentially transmitting the virus to others who may still be here or may have returned to their homes in other counties or states.”
Friday’s cluster at Sussex Correctional Center follows Monday’s report of three Rehoboth Beach lifeguards who tested positive for COVID-19.