COVID-19 COMMUNITY UPDATES: Department of Corrections employees test positive

Published 10:41 am Saturday, March 28, 2020

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BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Corrections (LDOC) has been notified that two employees at different state prisons tested positive for COVID-19. These are the first confirmed staff cases within the LDOC.

Due to HIPAA restrictions and security concerns, the LDOC will not release the names of the individuals or the facilities at which they work. Both employees were notified of positive COVID-19 results over the weekend and are at home in self isolation at this time. These employees had limited contact with other staff and inmates. Inmates who may have been exposed have been quarantined and are asymptomatic with no fever. Employees who had contact with the infected staff were sent home to self-quarantine.

As of this release, there are no positive COVID-19 cases reported within the state’s inmate population. We will continue to closely monitor state inmate health at all facilities.

“The reality is we are all at risk to this virus,” said Secretary Jimmy Le Blanc, Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections. “Early on, we activated our Department regulations and prison policies and took proactive measures in preparation for COVID-19. We have continuously educated and kept our prison population and staff informed on protocols and procedures aimed at reducing the risk of exposure.”

Proactive measure taken since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak and response have kept the state’s inmates virus free. To date, 32 state inmates have tested negative for COVID-19. In the interest of public safety and maintaining order and stability in our state-run prisons, the LDOC will not disclose the names of the institutions housing inmates who have tested.

Maintaining the safety, security, and well-being of the state’s inmate population, staff, and the public remains the LDOC’s highest priority. The entire LDOC is focused on reducing the potential impact of this virus on the state’s correctional system. The Department’s aggressive response inside state prisons from the beginning has included:

  • Suspension of visitation, volunteering, and tours
  • Screening of all staff and vendors prior to entering institutions
  • More frequent sanitizing of frequently-touched surfaces
  • Hand soap and paper towels are frequently restocked in the bathrooms
  • Hand sanitizer is available at the institutions
  • Minimized internal transfers of inmates on a case-by-case basis
  • Education of staff and inmates on COVID-19

LDOC understands the importance of staying in touch with loved ones during this challenging time. And while the Department must restrict visitation, LDOC is providing inmates in state-run facilities two free 15 minute calls and two free email stamps each week in an effort to ensure inmates are able to continue to communicate with family and friends.

Inmates who meet the criteria given to LDOC by the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) are tested for COVID-19. LDOC medical staff collects samples using collection kits from LDH, and LDH tests those samples for COVID-19.