DOC’s First Adult in Custody Tests Positive for COVID-19

Posted on April 3, 2020

The Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) today announced the first adult in custody (AIC) within the Oregon state prison system to test positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The patient is in stable condition and is being treated on-site.

The patient is at Santiam Correctional Institution in Salem, Oregon, and will soon move to an institution with 24-hour nursing care.  The positive test result was received April 2. Additional details cannot be shared about his protected health information.

If an AIC is showing signs and symptoms of influenza or COVID-19, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, they will be tested. DOC uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) guidance on appropriate criteria for testing. Those being tested and/or awaiting results are on respiratory isolation.

“We have been preparing for the spread of COVID-19 into our institutions, worksites and Community Corrections offices since the beginning of March,” said Director Colette S. Peters. “Even with all of our preventative measures, like restricting visiting, social distancing, and suspending any programs, we knew the first case was inevitable because our institutions are microcosm of our communities. Our agency has focused on this virus and how best to reduce the impact inside our institutions. The necessary protocols are in place to protect our employees and the adults in our custody as best we can. This is a difficult time for all Oregonians, including those in our care. I know the family and friends of the adults in custody are extremely concerned for their loved ones. I can assure you, we are taking all necessary measures to operate safe and secure institutions where people can work and live and stay healthy.”

SCI has taken several steps to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. These actions include: suspension of visiting and volunteer services, canceled group activities, house vulnerable AICs together, slowed down meal line in order to social distance.

DOC is now contacting all people who entered the institution in the last seven days. All AIC’s will be screened and any presenting with symptoms will be tested for COVID-19.

As people are tested and test results are returned, DOC will provide updated numbers on the DOC website. DOC is collaborating with our local public health officials, coordinating with the OHA, and following the CDC recommendations to prevent the spread COVID-19. DOC is following OHA’s guidance on long-term care facilities and law enforcement recommendations and CDC’s interim guidance on management of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in correctional and detention facilities.

SCI is a minimum-security prison in Salem that houses approximately 480 AICs who are within four years of release. The facility concentrates on work opportunities, most of which are in the form of work crews contracting with state agencies, local organizations, and private industries within a 60-mile radius of Salem.

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