Staff member at Nebraska State Penitentiary tests positive for COVID-19
This is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 to be diagnosed among any inmates or staff members in NDCS.
Saturday, Director Scott R. Frakes announced that a staff member in the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) has tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). The staff member is employed at the Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP) and has been isolated at home for the past 10 days.
This is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 to be diagnosed among any inmates or staff members in NDCS. No other individuals who have been in contact with the staff member have indicated symptoms consistent with COVID-19. The case has been reported to the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.
On Friday, April 3, 2020, staff members started wearing masks within all NDCS prison facilities and buildings, including Central Office, where most of the agency’s administrative team members work. The masks, orange in color and made from a polyester/cotton blend, are being manufactured by Cornhusker State Industries (CSI). Distribution of masks will continue through the weekend.
“Based on community spread and the increased availability of testing, we’ve been preparing for the scenario in which staff members or inmates tested positive for COVID-19,” said Dir. Frakes. “Having staff members in protective masks will help reduce the transmission of the illness through airborne droplets.”
Staff members have also been undergoing an entry screening process – answering a series of questions to assess their potential exposure to COVID-19. The agency is awaiting a shipment of thermometers that will be utilized to detect fever in staff members who arrive for work.
“The agency placed an initial order for thermometers several weeks ago which was stolen during delivery. It is expected that the second shipment will arrive soon,” noted Dir. Frakes.
“Again, the masks are a way to prevent others from catching what you might already be carrying. We will continue to make decisions as circumstances evolve and in the best interest of the safety of those who work live and work in our facilities.”