A group of Hawaii inmates in an Arizona prison have been placed in a precautionary 14-day quarantine after a staff member at the prison tested positive for COVID-19, according to a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety.
The Saguaro Correctional Center confirmed that one of its staff tested positive, and contact tracing prompted prison officials to test one Hawaii inmate and move him to the medical isolation unit to await the test result, said Toni Schwartz, spokeswoman for the Hawaii correctional system.
Schwartz said 119 other inmates who live in the same housing pod were also placed in a 14-day quarantine, but said no Hawaii inmates at the prison have tested positive for COVID-19 to date.
A total of 1,083 Hawaii prisoners are being housed at Saguaro because there is no room for them in the Hawaii prison system. Corrections officials report that 42 Hawaii prisoners at the facility have been tested for the coronavirus so far.
Schwartz did not say if mass testing of the inmates is planned, but said in a written statement that Saguaro nursing staff are doing daily temperature checks and monitoring the inmates for symptoms.
Visits at the prison were suspended as of March 18 as a precaution, and prison operator CoreCivic has implemented a program of temperature screening for staff who enter the facility.
The company has also screened the Hawaii population and identified inmates who are at higher risk from the disease because of ongoing health issues. Those inmates were being moved to separate housing units away from the general population, according to the statement.
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