SUBSCRIBE NOW

Delaware inmate and probation officer test positive for coronavirus

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

The Delaware Department of Correction announced Tuesday, April 8 there are two more positive cases for the coronavirus: an inmate and a probation/parole officer.

The inmate is James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna. They're part of a housing unit that has been carefully monitored by healthcare workers for the past week, with temperature checks two times a day.

It's the same housing unit in which the first positive COVID-19 inmate, which the DOC announced on April 7, is housed. When this inmate began to register a fever during the morning temperature check on April 7, he was immediately moved to the infirmary, where he received a COVID-19 test and has been treated in isolation.

The positive test result was returned this afternoon. In an abundance of caution, last evening the DOC moved inmates from the housing unit in which these two COVID-19 patients were housed to a vacant building across the compound to provide more physical distance among inmates. This is the second inmate to test positive for COVID-19.

Note: the inmate who tested positive for COVID-19 on April 7 continues to be treated in the prison infirmary and is in stable condition, recording a normal temperature with no fever.

The second person who tested positive in today's announcement was a probation/parole officer, who's assigned to the Cherry Lane Probation and Parole Office in New Castle.

The officer was last at the facility on April 3. After beginning to experience flu-like symptoms, the officer began to self-isolate at home, and as symptoms developed the officer sought medical attention, at which time a COVID-19 test was administered.

The positive COVID-19 test result was received by the officer on April 7 and verified today by the DOC. This is the first probation and parole officer to test positive for COVID-19.

No additional information will be provided about the identity of the inmate and the probation and parole officer for privacy protection.

"DOC's well-established infectious disease containment and mitigation protocols have kicked in to address these COVID-19 cases and keep our facilities and people safe," Commissioner Claire DeMatteis said. "These inmate patients are receiving excellent treatment and we are fully prepared to meet the healthcare needs that arise from this illness. As our state approaches the peak of this illness, our Officers, employees, and those under our supervision will continue to receive the very best protection."

The DOC is employing a variety of prevention, screening, cleaning and containment measures to guard against the spread of the novel coronavirus, including:

All persons, including officers, administrative staff and probationer, who enter any probation and parole office and any person entering any Level IV violation of probation and work release and Level V prison facility are screened for COVID-19, including a series of questions and a forehead temperature check with a digital thermometer

Staff who present with symptoms are sent home to self-quarantine and directed to contact their health care provider.

Newly arriving inmates are held in isolation for the first 14 days, during which they are carefully monitored, including daily temperature checks with a thermometer.

DOC has implemented extra daily cleaning of DOC facilities and is using specialized fogging machines to disinfect entire rooms of common areas, housing units and workspaces.

Face masks are being worn by correctional officers and contract healthcare workers as a protection for inmates, Officers and other employees. Face masks are also being provided to inmates who are in infirmaries, those with compromised immune systems, and certain inmates with institutional jobs, including food service workers.

Most probationer visits with probation officers were transitioned to phone check-ins starting last month to support social distancing measures.

In addition, the DOC has temporarily suspended in-person prison programming to reduce the movement of people into facilities and movement of groups of people within facilities. Certain programs, including treatment and education programs and religious programming, are being transitioned to a virtual video format.

Inmates continue to have outside recreation opportunities within their confined areas and continue to have access to phones to stay in regular contact with their loved ones. DOC is also expanding the use of electronic tablets among the inmate population, where available. 

Get updated information about the DOC’s response to COVID-19, read previous announcements of positive COVID-19 cases and review an informational chart of positive COVID-19 cases by DOC facility by clicking here and visiting https://doc.delaware.gov, and follow decorrection on Facebook and Twitter.