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More COVID-19 cases reported in Iowa’s prison system


Craig Lloyd/Pexels

Cases of COVID-19 have now been reported at three of Iowa’s nine state prisons.

On Thursday, the Iowa Department of Corrections announced an inmate at the Clarinda Correctional Facility in southwest Iowa tested positive for COVID-19. According to a statement from the department, the inmate is a male between the ages of 18 and 40, and has been at Clarinda for several months. He was placed in medical isolation after reporting symptoms of the virus on Saturday. The test results did not confirm it was a case of COVID-19 until Thursday.

According to IDOC, the inmate is so far only experiencing mild symptoms and remains in medical isolation.

IDOC updated its COVID-19 information page on Friday to indicate a staff member at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women has tested positive for the virus. The department has not published any more information about the newly confirmed case yet.

The women’s prison is located in Mitchelville, which is in Polk County. According to the most recent data published by the Iowa Department of Public Health, 1,176 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Polk County and 37 residents of the county have died from COVID-19. (Because of time-lag in IDPH’s reporting, those are the current numbers as of 10 a.m. on Thursday.)

The Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville, better known as Oakdale Prison, was the first state prison to report cases of COVID-19. On April 10, IDOC disclosed a staff member at Oakdale had tested positive, and on April 19, Oakdale confirmed the first case among its inmates.

According to IDOC’s COVID-19 information page, 18 inmates and six staff members at Oakdale have now tested positive for the virus.

Speaking at the governor’s press conference on April 20, IDOC Director Beth Skinner said the department was following long-standing plans regarding infectious diseases to prevent the spread of COVID-19. She also said IDOC was working to reduce overcrowding in the state’s prisons as part of its efforts against the virus.

Iowa’s prisons were 20.7 percent over capacity on April 20. As of May 1, that had been reduced to 16.7 percent over capacity.

When Skinner spoke at the press conference, there were only two cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the state prison system — one inmate and one staff member at Oakdale. A total of 19 inmates and seven staff members have now tested positive.


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