350 inmates recover from COVID

DOVER — The Department of Correction announced this week 350 inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 in July have recovered. Three hundred thirty of those inmates are from the Sussex Correctional Institution, which saw a major outbreak last month.

All 20 inmates have also recovered from a cluster of cases at Morris Community Corrections Center that originated with three SCI inmates who were transferred to the facility. The vast majority of these inmates were diagnosed through proactive testing and daily symptom checks initiated by the agency after some prisoners tested positive for the illness.

As of Monday, there were 30 active cases in the prisons, according to the agency. Eight inmates have died, while 491 have recovered.

“The Department of Correction is in the healthcare business,” Commissioner Claire DeMatteis said. “Over the past month our aggressive action to identify, isolate, test, and treat inmates effectively stopped the transmission of COVID-19 in our facilities.  As a result, 350 inmates have recovered, and today just 10 inmates who have the illness are displaying any symptoms as they continue to receive excellent care on their road to recovery.”

The Sussex Correctional Institution building where inmates with COVID are housed. Submitted photo/Delaware Department of Correction

Most COVID-positive inmates from SCI and MCCC remained free of symptoms after their test results were returned. Each recovered inmate receives follow-up COVID-19 testing and must have two consecutive negative test results before returning to the general inmate population.

The agency said it has dispatched three dozen virtual education stations to inmate housing units across its four prison facilities this week. They join the two dozen stations already deployed this spring to allow distance education for inmates during the pandemic. 

These specially designed education stations contain video equipment, cameras and hardware allowing the department to expand interactive group video education, treatment and programming to dozens of new locations. Traditionally, group inmate education, programming and other activities take place centralized classrooms that are shared by inmates across a prison facility.

With COVID limiting access to common spaces, the agency is taking programs directly to housing units.

Certain programs, such as treatment, education and religious activities, have been transitioned to a virtual video format.

Inmates across Delaware’s correctional system continue to have outside recreation opportunities within their confined areas and can use phones to stay in regular contact with their loved ones. The agency said it is also expanding the use of electronic tablets among the inmate population.

Coronavirus prevention efforts at SCI and MCCC include daily temperature checks for inmates, no visitation, voluntary COVID testing for officers, thorough cleaning, face coverings and temperature screenings for all who enter the facilities

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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