They are the second and third offenders in the state prison system to test positive for the virus also known as COVID-19. The first offender to test positive, on April 1, is housed at the Caledonia Correctional Institution in Tillery.
At approximately 12:15 p.m. Thursday, Neuse Correctional Institution Warden Morris Reid and members of his custody and medical staffs attempted to speak with a group of offenders outside of their living dormitory to explain that proper Centers for Disease Control guidelines were being instituted after an offender there had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
Other offenders from different dorms then came outside and would not go back inside despite orders from the warden and other staff.
The appropriate security measures and appropriate levels of force were used to restore order, in what can be best characterized as an organized offender protest. No serious injuries were reported at the Goldsboro prison.
“We have prepared for this,” said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons. “We are following the infectious disease protocols we put in place for just these situations. Our top priority is the health and safety of our staff and the men and women in our care.”
The offenders, who were housed in the same housing unit, reported to the medical staff with symptoms of a viral infection on March 27. They were promptly quarantined from the population and tested for COVID-19. The test came back positive today, April 2. They are in stable condition.
Pursuant to protocols, precautions have been taken to prevent anyone else at the prison from becoming infected by the virus. Contact tracing is also underway to identify persons who may have had unprotected contact with the offenders within six feet over a span of 10 minutes. Those individuals will be monitored and tested for COVID-19 as warranted, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
Also, in accordance with CDC guidelines, the entire minimum unit at the prison has been placed on quarantine, with no movements of offenders to or from the prison unless for critical need. The housing dorm where the offenders were assigned was placed on lockdown except for appropriately regulated recreational time. Offenders within this housing assignment will be served meals in their dorm. All offenders and staff will be issued masks to wear. An additional shipment of masks and other personal protective equipment immediately were dispatched to the prison, and additional sanitation regimens were instituted.
The individuals who tested positive were both males in the 40s. Given their right to medical privacy and the confidentiality of prison offender records, the Department of Public Safety will not further identify the individual.
These two individuals, along with the offender at Caledonia Correctional, are the only currently known instances of offenders in the state prison system testing positive for COVID-19.
It was incorrectly stated earlier today at a press conference in Raleigh that an offender at Johnston Correctional Institution, a minimum custody facility in Smithfield, tested positive for COVID-19. In fact, no offender has tested positive at that prison at this point.
For the past month, offenders throughout the prison system with fevers, coughs and symptoms of respiratory illness have been quarantined from the prison general population. In addition, new offenders to the state prison system are quarantined for 14 days following initial medical screening for potential COVID-19 symptoms, in order to prevent the introduction of the virus into a facility. Offender transportation movements are limited to only court-ordered, high priority and health care movements. Transported offenders are medically screened both before and after getting on the bus.
Testing for COVID-19 is being done per the recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control. The North Carolina Division of Prisons has taken a substantial number of additional actions to prepare for the emergence of COVID-19 in the state prisons and, to reduce the chances it could spread.
Goldsboro Daily News photographer Bobby Williams shot these photos as law enforcement responded to the incident at Neuese Correctional Institution on Thursday.