One-third of Sussex Correctional inmates test positive for COVID-19

GEORGETOWN — One-third of inmates at the Sussex Correctional Institution (SCI) in Georgetown have tested positive for COVID-19, the Delaware Department of Corrections announced on Monday after two weeks of monitoring and testing.

The DOC said 303 inmates at SCI have the virus. Two-thirds, 650, tested negative while there are 20 test results still pending.

There were also 17 positive tests for inmates at the Morris Community Corrections Center (MCCC) in Dover. The MCCC cluster of cases originated with the transfer of three SCI inmates who had completed their Level V sentence and were transferred to complete their Level IV term of incarceration, the DOC said.

Of the 320 inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19, 90% (288 inmates) are asymptomatic, according to the DOC. Thirty-two inmates are showing COVID-19 symptoms while four of those 32 are in area hospitals receiving treatment in stable condition and none are on a ventilator.

In addition to the inmates, 21 SCI officers have tested positive for the disease, and another 18 SCI officers are in self-quarantine awaiting COVID-19 test results, the DOC said. The DOC offered voluntary testing for all SCI officers due to the high rate of community spread in Sussex County. Voluntary testing also was offered to MCCC officers, with no officers testing positive from that facility.

“This infectious disease predominately hit three open dormitory-style housing units at SCI. While the number of inmates who have tested positive at SCI is a big number, 90% of the inmates have no symptoms. Our proactive testing is working to identify inmates and officers who may be silent spreaders of the virus,” DOC Commissioner Claire DeMatteis said in a statement. “We have isolated the inmates with the illness in our COVID-19 Treatment Centers where they are receiving round-the-clock monitoring and care by medical professionals. We are taking extraordinary measures to protect and treat our inmates and staff and reduce the risk of new infections, including unprecedented relocation of inmates to different housing units at SCI and extensive specialized decontamination cleanings to contain further spread of the virus.”

In regard to the remaining seven DOC Level IV and Level V facilities throughout the state, those facilities do not have any current COVID-19 cases.

Statewide meanwhile, the Delaware Department of Public Health (DPH) announced 65 new cases and no new deaths. Current hospitalizations dropped by seven compared to the previous day, down to 49, 12 of whom are listed as critical.

The percentage of those who tested positive was 3.3% — the second day in a row that number dropped. The new positive cases were down by 50 cases compared to the day before.

Delaware has seen a total 12,879 positive cases of COVID-19 with 7,139 of those listed as recovered and 126,484 testing negative according to the DPH. Deaths remained at a total of 517.

All numbers via the DPH are as of 6 p.m. Sunday.

Regarding if the prison cases have been included in the DPH’s data yet, a DPH spokesperson said cases only appear in its data when they are officially reported to the DPH and processed through its reporting and surveillance system. The timing of when positive cases would be entered and counted is dependent upon when and how they are reported to the DPH by the provider or lab processing the tests.

The outbreak at SCI began two weeks ago when three inmates showed symptoms of COVID-19 infection and tested positive for the illness. After additional positive tests, the DOC implemented its mitigation efforts at SCI and MCCC.

All in-person visits at SCI and MCCC are currently suspended. SCI has also stopped accepting new commits on a temporary basis.

Three dozen SCI inmates over 60 years old and those with underlying health conditions who tested negative for COVID-19 were moved last week to a vacant housing building at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC) in Smyrna to keep them in a COVID-free environment.

As of Monday, 87 COVID-positive inmates have been transferred to the COVID-19 Treatment Center at JTVCC. Two are being treated in the JTVCC infirmary while four are being treated in stable condition in area hospitals.

SCI opened its own COVID-19 Treatment Center on Saturday where 227 inmates who tested positive were moved to.

Currently across all correctional facilities, 35 DOC staff and eight health care contractors have tested positive for COVID-19, while 87 DOC staff and health care contractors assigned to DOC facilities have recovered from the illness, according to the DOC.

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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