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COVID-19 infects 48 at federal prison in Clay County, making it fifth KY prison hit

Lexington Herald-Leader logo Lexington Herald-Leader 7/22/2020 By John Cheves, Lexington Herald-Leader

Four dozen people at the federal prison in Clay County have been infected by COVID-19, making it the fifth prison in Kentucky to suffer an outbreak, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons has confirmed on its website.

As of Wednesday, the Federal Correctional Institution-Manchester had 42 inmates and five employees infected with the novel coronavirus, as well as one inmate who has recovered from an infection, the BOP reported.

“The number of positive cases at FCI-Manchester increased in the past week. However, the majority of cases are asymptomatic or involve mild symptoms,” said Justin Long, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in Washington.

“All inmates who are positive with COVID-19 at FCI-Manchester are currently quarantined or isolated apart from the institution’s general population,” Long said.

FCI-Manchester houses a daily average of 1,082 inmates ranging in age from 20 to 74, according to a federal audit conducted in February. It employs 277 people.

The 240-acre facility includes a medium-security prison that held 950 people in February and a minimum-security satellite camp that held 138 people.

COVID-19 has raced through the confined populations of Kentucky’s state and federal prisons since the pandemic began in March.

Seven inmates died and at least 337 inmates and 10 employees were infected during an eruption of COVID-19 cases at the Federal Medical Center, a federal prison on Leestown Road in Lexington. But that outburst mostly has abated, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

Additionally, coronavirus outbreaks at three of Kentucky’s state prisons have killed six inmates and infected at least 770 inmates and 108 employees, according to the Kentucky Department of Corrections.

The federal Bureau of Prisons is using personal protective equipment, virus testing, limits on inmate movement and quarantining when necessary to curb the spread of the pandemic, Long said.

“While in general population, any inmate displaying symptoms for COVID-19 will be tested and placed in isolation,” Long said. “A contact investigation will be conducted to identify any potential exposures and may include widespread testing as clinically indicated.”

“As testing resources have become more available, we are testing our inmate population more broadly, which is helping us to quickly identify and isolate positive cases to rapidly flatten the curve when outbreaks occur,” Long said. “As a result of our expanded testing capabilities and the BOP’s robust pandemic plan, we currently have more staff and inmates recovered from COVID-19 than are positive.”

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©2020 the Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.)

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