Corrections officials announced Tuesday that three more inmates and four more staff at Oahu Community Correctional Center have tested positive in the COVID-19 outbreak at the state’s largest jail.
Staff at the facility reported that National Guardsmen began mass testing of prisoners Tuesday at a dormitory in the jail complex.
The mass testing at Annex 1 began in the afternoon, and corrections officers who have worked at the annex also gathered there to be tested, according to staff. The staff agreed to discuss the situation on condition that they not be identified.
So far the state Department of Public Safety has reported that a total of nine inmates and seven adult corrections officers at OCCC have tested positive. Workers at the jail said they are worried the virus has already spread well beyond the cases that have been identified so far.
Staff and inmates walk a hall within the Oahu Community Correctional Center in Honolulu.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
More than 100 inmates were being housed in the Annex 1 dormitory before the outbreak, and staff said at least one inmate and one corrections officer have also tested positive in Module 19. That module has been used as a holding area or quarantine site for inmates when they first arrive in the jail.
Jail protocol requires that newly arrived inmates stay at Module 19 for two weeks before they are placed in the general population, but staff said that isolation period was cut short for some prisoners as the module filled up, and some inmates were moved out early and placed in other parts of the jail.
Reports posted online by the department show that as of Monday, 170 OCCC inmates have been tested, which is more than triple the number the department reported had been tested as of Monday. Results are pending for 114 prisoners.
The positive test results have prompted jail officials to place 322 prisoners in quarantine at OCCC, and 20 more are in medical isolation. The jail held 837 male inmates and 101 females as of Aug. 3.
The jail on Monday stopped transporting inmates to court appearances until at least Friday, according to the department. Video hearings will take place as much as possible, according to corrections officials.
OCCC is also contracting with a professional cleaning and sanitation company to perform a deep-clean of the quarantine housing and intake areas at OCCC as soon as possible, according to the department.
“In the meantime, OCCC operations staff and work lines are increasing cleaning of all housing and intake areas,” corrections officials said in a written statement.
In April the court created an expedited process for releasing low-risk inmates in response to a filing by Tabe’s office, but that initiative has expired, and the prison and jail populations have increased since then.
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