A large outbreak of the new coronavirus has been reported at a prison in northeast Colorado after weeks of efforts by law enforcement officials to reduce the risk of a cluster among jail and prison inmates statewide.
At least 138 inmates at the Sterling Correctional Facility, out of 255 test results that have been returned, tested positive for the virus. Tests of a dozen more inmates returned inconclusive results. The outbreak reported Friday is the largest to date in a prison or jail in Colorado.
The Sterling prison houses more than 2,400 inmates. About 475 symptomatic and asymptomatic inmates were tested. The rest of the results have not been returned.
“Given the insidious nature of this virus we had suspected that despite seeing a relatively low number of inmates with symptoms, the number of positives was potentially much higher,” Colorado Department of Corrections Executive Director Dean Williams said in a written statement. “That is exactly why we conducted this large scale testing, so that we can continue to isolate, monitor and treat any inmates who were positive and try to mitigate the spread to others inside the facility.”
Earlier in the week the state reported that a handful of inmates at the prison had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The facility has been on modified operations since April 14, meaning inmates are only allowed to leave their cells for limited periods.
“The facility has continued to undergo extensive cleaning multiple times a day and staff and inmates are all required to wear face coverings in the facility at all times,” the CDOC said in a news release. “All of the inmates on the east side of the facility are having temperature checks done twice daily as an additional screening measure.”
Other jails and prisons in Colorado have seen outbreaks of coronavirus.