PRESS RELEASE: First Department of Corrections Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19
Released March 13, 2020
TUMWATER – Late yesterday, the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) confirmed that an employee working at the Monroe Correctional Complex-Washington State Reformatory (MCC-WSR) has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee last worked on March 8, was tested on March 10 and received results back yesterday, March 12. The employee will remain at home away from others until they recover.
The employee, MCC leadership and human resources are working closely with our medical professionals. MCC leadership will stay in contact with this employee throughout the recovery process to make sure they get the care they need.
“The health and safety of our staff and incarcerated population is essential,” said Secretary Steve Sinclair. “We are taking precautions to protect those individuals who may have been in close contact with this employee as well as all of the incarcerated individuals who were exposed to them during their daily work. We understand family and friends are concerned and we will keep you informed as things evolve.”
Corrections has identified employees considered to be in close contact with the employee and is in the process of notifying them. Anyone confirmed to have been in close contact will be asked to self-quarantine at home until the suggested 14-day quarantine period ends. According to DOH, close contact includes:
- Living in the same household as a sick person with COVID-19;
- Caring for a sick person with COVID-19
- Being within 6 feet of a sick person with COVID-19 for about 10 minutes; OR
- Being in direct contact with secretions from a sick person with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.).
While DOH guidelines recommend quarantine for individuals who have been in close contact, MCC is also placing WSRU A and B units where the employee worked into precautionary quarantine for 10 days until the 14-day quarantine period ends with modified restricted movement to protect them. MCC staff is continuing to thoroughly clean and disinfect the affected units and encouraging other precautionary activities, including providing extra cleaning supplies to the incarcerated individuals.
DOC has been preparing for the possibility that employees, incarcerated individuals or individuals under supervision might test positive for COVID-19 or need to self-quarantine since the COVID-19 response began. DOC’s health services team has developed a specific protocol for COVID-19 screening, testing and infection control that they are updating regularly and have been distributing to health services staff and facility superintendents since March 5.
At this time, Corrections has no reported cases of other employees, incarcerated individuals or individuals on supervision with COVID-19. The Department is following guidelines for individuals who show symptoms and those have been in close contact with individuals with symptoms. We are following isolation protocols for those who show symptoms and everyone who shows symptoms for COVID-19 is being tested. We are also following quarantine protocols for those who have potentially been exposed.
The department will continue to follow Department of Health and CDC guidance and take every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including increasing routine cleaning and sanitation.