Wyoming to Test All Inmates, Staff at Prisons for COVID-19
The Wyoming Department of Corrections will begin testing all inmates and employees for COVID-19 next week, the agency announced Wednesday.
"WDOC will begin one-time 100 percent testing at each of its five correctional institutions in rotation," the agency said in a press release. "Testing will be completed on every inmate as well as every state and contract employee assigned to each of the institutions."
To date, no Wyoming prisoners have tested positive for the virus. Hawaii is the only other state to hold the distinction.
“We want to confirm our zero COVID-19 status,” said WDOC Director Bob Lampert. “Due to the recent uptick in the incidence rate of COVID-19 in various communities in Wyoming, we want to be extra cautious. Therefore, we are going to test everybody as soon as we can reasonably do so."
"Once our baseline is established, we will institute ongoing surveillance testing in the same manner as nursing homes in order to maintain the safest possible living and work environment," Lampert added.
The following notice went out to inmates:
DOC Response to COVID-19 – July 8, 2020
A message to the Inmate Population from Director Lampert and WDOC leadership
As you are all aware COVID-19 continues to be a significant and continuing public health risk. Your continued health and well-being are important to us as we continue to work through the challenges of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic in our state.
As of today, July 8, 2020, the Wyoming Department of Corrections has no reported cases of staff or incarcerated individuals with COVID-19. However, we are concerned about the recent uptick in the incident rate of COVID-19 in various Wyoming communities and want to continue to do all we can to prevent its introduction among our incarcerated adults and the staff who supervise them. Therefore, we have developed a plan for expanded testing for the protection of everyone.
Starting next week, WDOC will begin COVID-19 testing of all institutional assigned WDOC staff, contract employees, and inmates.
- Initially we will conduct 100% testing at each facility and rotate that testing through each of our five facilities beginning at the Honor Farm, followed by the Women's Center, the Honor Camp, and then the two larger facilities.
- Corizon staff will be conducting the tests which will be sent to the appropriate lab and paid for through the Department of Health. All testing will be completed at no cost to the individual, and will not be submitted to insurance.
- Test results can be expected to come back within two days of their being sent to the lab. Movement between housing units, as well as to and from the tested facility, will be limited for a few days pending the testing results.
- Inmates arriving at a tested facility from another location that has not undergone 100% testing will be quarantined and tested even if they are arriving from another DOC facility.
- Should we encounter a positive test result, immediate action will be taken to initiate contact tracing and containment protocols.
The COVID-19 tests are not considered optional.
- Those inmates who refuse testing will be placed on mandatory quarantine for 14 days with subsequent testing opportunities, even if they do not have symptoms.
- As additional precautions, we will also continue to quarantine any symptomatic inmates and all inmates newly received from outside of WDOC. Those two groups will be tested twice during the quarantine process and prior to release into population.
We are hopeful that 100% testing can be completed prior to the end of August 2020. Following completion of the first round of testing at an institution, we will implement ongoing surveillance testing of 20% of staff and inmates every other week until such time as the Department of Health determines no continued need for surveillance testing. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.