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PRESS RELEASE: Second Department of Corrections Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

Released March 14, 2020

Contact Janelle Guthrie, (360) 764-9791

DOC Communications

TUMWATER – Late on March 13, a Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) employee working on the third floor of DOC Headquarters reported they tested positive for COVID-19. The employee was last in the office on Wednesday, March 11, and will be at home until they recover.

When the employee first reported symptoms, Corrections identified employees considered to be in close contact with the employee and notified them. Anyone confirmed to have been in close contact was asked to self-quarantine at home and monitor for symptoms until the suggested 14-day quarantine period ends. According to DOH (pdf), 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.).

“Corrections continues to be vigilant in efforts to protect our staff, those we serve and our communities,” said Secretary Steve Sinclair. “Effective immediately, all offices and facilities within the Department, including prisons, work release and field offices, will be implementing enhanced screening protocols to the degree possible with available onsite equipment.”

“We are closely monitoring the health and safety of our employees and those in our care and wish those recovering from COVID-19 a speedy recovery,” he said.

At this time, Corrections has no reported cases of incarcerated individuals or individuals on supervision with COVID-19.

Additional DOC response

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 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-10 is being testing. 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. Corrections is following isolation protocols for those who show symptoms and everyone who shows symptoms for COVID-10 is being testing. The department is also following quarantine protocols for those who have potentially been exposed.

In addition to these precautions, Corrections is highly encouraging all eligible employees to work remotely.