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COVID-19 Serial Staff Testing

Published October 14, 2020, Updated October 15, 2020

By Tim Kelly

DOC Communications

(Tim Kelly, DOC Communications)

(Clarifying note: The facility receives results typically in 48 hours, those who are positive are notified via the Occupational Nurse Consultant, others can call the 800 number to confirm their negative results.)

To help keep staff and incarcerated safe, Washington State Department of Corrections recently implemented COVID serial testing for staff.

As of October, every state correctional facility has conducted serial testing. The goal of the testing is to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 in a correctional setting. Each week, every employee that works at a facility or travels to facilities self-administers a nasal swab that is then tested. Facilities also implemented active screening stations, personal protective equipment protocols, and enhanced cleaning.

“It’s hard to control the virus if you don’t know where it is, both in the incarcerated population and our employees," said John Padilla, associate superintendent at Monroe Correctional Complex. "This is like a roadmap to us taking care of our staff and our incarcerated.”

Having weekly testing helps the department in creating an environment that values physical, mental, and emotional security and well-being. Ryan Graves, a recreation specialist at Stafford Creek Corrections Center, is the testing branch director and proud to be working on the project.

“For every facility that’s doing this, the key is having a good team of people that you can trust and that want to keep us all safe,” said Graves.