Utah State Prison on code-red lockdown after COVID-19 outbreak in inmates

DRAPER, Utah, Oct. 30, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah State Prison is on code-red lockdown for at least 24 hours after a COVID-19 outbreak discovered Friday.

The virus was confirmed Friday in at least two inmates, each of whom was living in a different dormitory setting, which could have maximized exposure to other residents.

Mike Haddon, executive director of the Utah State Department of Corrections, was scheduled to deliver an update earlier in the day, but cancelled that meeting to address the new situation in a video message issued Friday afternoon.

“The Utah State Prison here at Draper is currently on lockdown, at least for the next 24 hours, due to what appears to be a second outbreak of COVID-19 in the facilities,” Haddon said in a video, which can be viewed in full at the top of this story.

“It’s critically important that you know that our team right now is actively working both on containment processes as well as ensuring our incarcerated individuals are receiving the services they need.

“Last night we had two of our incarcerated individuals that were housed in our Oquirrh 5 facility that were exhibiting COVID-like symptoms. They were immediately tested with rapid tests, which we have available, and both of those tests came back negative.

“This morning, we had an individual, also from Oquirrh 5, who reported having COVID-19 symptoms, and we also promptly tested that individual. In that case, the test came back positive. We immediately put into place our containment protocols at Utah State Prison, specifically at Draper. Shortly after that, an inmate that is housed in the Promontory facility reported COVID-19 symptoms. We also promptly tested that individual. Unfortunately, that individual also came back as a positive.”

A previously scheduled COVID-19 update was cancelled to allow full focus on the current outbreak, Haddon said.

“We are right now collaborating closely with the Utah Department of Health and the Unified Command, and they are going to be assisting us with testing of our incarcerated individuals at the Draper site, starting out with the Oquirrh 5 unit and the Promontory facility as well.

“We are deeply concerned about this latest outbreak. Oquirrh 5 is where our most medically vulnerable incarcerated individuals are held, and we’ve taken great precautions in that unit since March of this year.”

Haddon said Oquirrh 5 and Promontory are both dormitory-style housing units, “so it’s possible the exposure risk would be high.”

The newly confirmed COVID patients had been placed in medical isolation, he said, adding that no one now housed in Oquirrh 5 or Promontory currently exhibits COVID symptoms.

Haddon said the report scheduled for this morning would have shared the fact that 312 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19, and 303 were now considered recovered.

“Those numbers are certainly likely to change now with this latest outbreak.”

Haddon said numbers of COVID-19 cases at prison facilities would continue to be updated, and the numbers would be updated on the prison site, at corrections.Utah.gov.

Utah State Prison. Photo: Corrections.utah.gov

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