Routine surveillance testing conducted this week by the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (ND DOCR) has revealed an increase among staff and residents who are currently positive for COVID-19. As of October 16, 2020, active positive cases totaled 80 (37 staff, 43 residents). This represents a net increase in positive cases of 54 (12 staff, 42 residents) from the last week. No staff or residents are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.
“Leadership, operations staff, facility staff, education, behavioral health, and medical staff are all helping each other with the goal of supporting residents and staff through this time, and to keep the entire DOCR community healthy,” said Dr. John Hagan, State Correctional Health Authority. “I am immensely proud of the entire DOCR corrections community for their enthusiastic response in meeting the challenges presented by increased COVID-19 cases in the region.”
The largest number of infections at the ND DOCR are located at the North Dakota State Penitentiary (NDSP) where 19 staff members and 39 residents are currently positive. All residents testing positive for the virus are immediately placed in a medical isolation unit. The medical condition of each resident in isolation is monitored at least twice daily by ND DOCR medical staff. Staff who have tested positive or who have been determined to be a close contact of a positive are notified and required to immediately leave the workplace.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ND DOCR has implemented a number measures to mitigate the spread of the virus within its facilities. Public access to facilities is limited and in-person visitation remains suspended indefinitely. Employees are required to complete a health screen and temperature check prior to reporting for work each day. Face masks are mandatory in all ND DOCR facilities. Additionally, ND DOCR has begun wastewater testing. This new technology, combined with surveillance testing, will allow for ND DOCR to better anticipate and manage future facility outbreaks.
“As we experience an increase of cases not only at the ND DOCR, but as well as across the state, we need to take the health and safety of our staff, residents, students, and those on supervision very seriously,” said Dave Krabbenhoft, Interim Director. “We will continue to monitor the cases and close contacts to help mitigate the spread the best we can.”
All ND DOCR COVID-19 data can be found by visiting https://www.docr.nd.gov/covid-19-information. COVID-19 cases in both staff and residents are updated Monday-Friday if there are changes to previous data; total testing numbers are updated every Wednesday.