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First State Prisoner Tests Positive for COVID-19

RALEIGH — An offender at the minimum custody unit of the Caledonia Correctional Complex in Tillery has tested positive for coronavirus, the N.C. Department of Public Safety announced Wednesday night. It is the first positive test for the virus of a prisoner in the state system.

“We have prepared long and hard for this day,” said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons. “This is not a surprise and we are following the infectious disease protocols we have in place for exactly this type of situation. Our top priority is the health and safety of our staff and the men and women in our care.”

The offender is in isolation at the prison and is being treated by the licensed medical staff assigned to the facility, according to DPS in a news release. The offender exhibited symptoms of a viral infection on March 24. He was promptly quarantined from the population and tested for COVID-19 the next day. The test came back positive Wednesday afternoon. The offender is in stable condition.

Contact tracing is underway to identify people who may have had unprotected contact with the offender within six feet over a span of 10 minutes, the state prison system said in the release.

The individual who tested positive is a male in his 60s. The Department of Public Safety did not release the man’s name.

For the past month, the Department of Public Safety says that offenders throughout the prison system with fevers, coughs and symptoms of respiratory illness have been quarantined from the prison general population. In addition, new offenders to the state prison system are quarantined for 14 days following initial medical screening for potential COVID-19 symptoms, in order to prevent the introduction of the virus into a facility.

Offender transportation movements are limited to only court-ordered, high priority and health care movements. Transported offenders are medically screened both before and after getting on the bus.

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