Seven new COVID-19 positives reported at Piedmont Correctional

Published 8:33 pm Wednesday, September 23, 2020

By Shavonne Potts

SALISBURY — Piedmont Correctional Institute reports there are seven active cases of COVID-19 within the nearly 700 prisoners at the Salisbury facility.

According to John Bull, communications officer for the N.C. Department of Public Safety, three of inmates were transferred into the facility and all are in medical isolation, separated from the general population.

Bull said the Department of Public Safety cannot discuss the transfer of any offender. Additionally, an inmate could be transferred for any number of reasons, including security, medical or facility operational needs.

“As you know, the vast majority of offenders who test positive for the virus recover,” Bull said.

Piedmont Correctional is also a designated intake facility where new offenders from county jails are processed to begin their prison sentences, Bull said. Those inmates do not come into contact with the rest of the prison population, he said.

“They immediately are tested for COVID-19. Any who test positive remain in medical isolation until they meet CDC and DHHS guidelines to be considered presumed recovered,” Bull said.

Including the recent positives, there have now been 48 COVID-19 cases at Piedmont Correctional after more than 2,100 tests.

Neuse and Albemarle Correctional Institute are first and second, respectively, among state prisons for most cases. Albemarle has seen 318 positives while Neuse has seen 466 cases. Both have seen three deaths among positive inmates.

Piedmont’s medical isolation and medical quarantine protocols, which are based on state and federal guidance, are that offenders who test positive are moved into medical isolation and their housing units are placed under medical quarantine for close observation and twice daily temperature checks, Bull said.

If any offender subsequently developed symptoms of COVID-19 or if contact tracing indicates potential exposure to someone who is COVID-positive, he or she is moved into medical isolation.

In July, the entire prison population was tested at Piedmont Correctional Institute, located at 1245 Camp Road. Then, just 13 offenders tested positive for COVID-19. The recent spate of cases has not yet officially been declared an outbreak, which involves two or more cases in a congregate living setting. The next statewide update on outbreaks is scheduled to be released Friday at 4 p.m. The Rowan County Health Department, however, provides an update on outbreaks daily.