As coronavirus cases continue to spread, more workers in a Columbia prison have tested positive for COVID-19, the South Carolina correctional department said on Saturday.
According to SCDC, two new cases of coronavirus have been reported by staff working at the Broad River Correctional Facility. The new cases mean that four employees from Broad River have been confirmed positive for COVID-19.
Overall, there are 16 confirmed cases of SCDC employees who have coronavirus in 21 facilities across the state, officials said. This includes eight non-institutional staff who have tested positive for COVID-19.
There are no cases of inmates with coronaviruses in correctional facilities, said SCDC officials.
The detainees were not quarantined from each other, but visitors and volunteers were excluded from South Carolina prisons to help reduce the spread of the virus.
In addition, detainees cleaned living areas every two hours, SCDC spokeswoman Chrysti Shain told the state on Friday.
Shain said on Sunday that investigations are underway, under the leadership of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), to determine the close contacts of a person who tested positive . Anyone who has had close contact with a coronavirus patient will be notified and, depending on their level of contact, will either be self-monitored or quarantined, said Shain.
Due to medical protection laws, Shain could not say whether SCDC employees who tested positive for COVID-19 are hospitalized.
“Employees who test positive follow DHEC guidelines for isolation and treatment,” Shain told the state.
Broad River, which is a high security facility for men only, is not the only prison in Colombia where employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
Two staff from Camille Graham Correctional Institution also tested positive for the coronavirus. This is a medium security female prison for women also on the Broad River Road complex.
Since early March, DHEC has reported 242 positive COVID-19 tests in Richland County, behind Charleston County (274), the second largest county in South Carolina. According to DHEC, six people died after being tested positive in Richland County, the highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in the state.
In addition to the six staff who self-reported coronavirus tests in Columbia prisons, a staff member from the Turbeville Correctional Facility (Clarendon County) and the Livesay Correctional Facility (Spartanburg County) received a diagnosis of COVID-19, according to SCDC.
All SCDC employees recovering from the coronavirus must have a documented recovery based on DHEC guidelines before returning to work, said Shain.
An employee of the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and another from the Department of Mental Health have also tested positive for the coronavirus, the state reported.
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COVID-19 is a new condition and there is a lot about the disease that we still do not understand. For now, taking precautions is the best way to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
On Saturday, 217 new cases of coronavirus were reported in South Carolina, bringing the statewide total to 1,917 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 46 counties, according to DHEC.
DHEC also announced that six other people died after being tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing this total to 40 in one month. State health officials have described 39 of the elderly, one middle-aged, and all but two of them with underlying health conditions.
There were 16,397 negative tests combined at the DHEC public health laboratory and in private laboratories.
According to the CDC, symptoms of coronavirus may include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Warning signs of COVID-19 include difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest and bluish lips or face, the CDC said.
The best way to prevent infection is to wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds; avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth; avoid contact with sick people and clean frequently touched objects with a cleaning spray or wipe, according to the CDC. DHEC also recommends covering your cough, staying at home in case of illness and throwing away tissues and other items in which you sneeze or cough.
All residents of South Carolina can also access free online screenings at scdhec.gov/COVID19.
Prisma Health also offers free access to medical professionals for those who think they may have a coronavirus, the state reported. People with COVID-19 symptoms can go to https://www.prismahealth.org/virtual-visit/ and schedule a free online visit, said Prisma officials.
On Sunday morning, 1,216,422 people worldwide were diagnosed with coronavirus and 65,711 people died, while 252,478 people recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States leads the world with 312,249 people who have been diagnosed with the new virus. In the United States, 8,503 deaths have been reported, including 2,624 in New York, according to Johns Hopkins.