ADOC announces enhanced COVID-19 testing protocols
Published 1:23 pm Friday, July 10, 2020
The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) today announced it has begun the process of implementing expanded COVID-19 testing protocols to enhance its virus containment and clinical management strategies to best protect the safety, security, and wellbeing of its staff and inmate populations. The ADOC’s ultimate goal is to, over time, test every inmate across the correctional system for COVID-19.
Currently, inmates are tested for COVID-19 upon intake, when exhibiting signs or symptoms of the disease, and prior to community medical appointments and procedures. As we continue to note, staff members are asked to self-report a positive test result for COVID-19 and self-quarantine as directed by their healthcare providers.
Our next phase of expanded COVID-19 testing, which will begin in the near future, includes testing our most medically vulnerable inmate populations. Additionally, we will test all inmates prior to release at the end of their sentence and notification of positive results will be provided to the health department in the county in which they have indicated they plan to reside.
The Department is working to develop a comprehensive plan and timeline to implement its expanded COVID-19 testing protocols. This plan will include providing staff members with access to free testing on a yet-to-be determined schedule. The ADOC’s Office of Health Services (OHS) is working with community partners to develop both fixed and mobile testing sites and provide necessary logistical support.
Our intent is to take a strategic and methodical approach in an effort to ensure that protocols can be implemented successfully, clinical resources remain available, and necessary staffing levels can be maintained. We will continue to consult with the Alabama Department of Public Health as we move toward our goal of testing all inmates across the correctional system.
As a result of these enhanced testing protocols and COVID-19’s continued and evolving impact on our correctional system, the ADOC also will make a series of reporting shifts to develop a more sustainable model for sharing COVID-19 information pertinent to public health without negatively impacting critical care to our inmates and staff, nor the Department’s commitment to transparency.
The Department will continue to provide daily updates on newly identified cases among our inmates and staff members as well as the respective facilities at which they live or work. In addition, all COVID-19-related inmate deaths, and available associated details, will continue to be reported. However, non-critical details, including dorm- or area-specific quarantine measures taken as a result of a positive test, whether the inmate in question was symptomatic or asymptomatic at the time of the positive test, or if he or she requires a higher level of medical care following a positive test result, no longer will be reported.
Our goal in making this shift is to reduce the daily burden on key medical staff as it relates to reporting non-critical details for each newly identified positive case while also continuing to provide a clear snapshot of the virus’ ongoing impact on our facilities.
The ADOC continues to monitor closely COVID-19’s evolving impact on our correctional system, state, and country, and gather additional data around which informed and strategic operational decisions can be made. As it has been since the onset of this pandemic, the Department’s intent is to keep the public apprised, without compromising security, of our ongoing and evolving response to COVID-19 in our facilities.
The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) was informed via self-reporting that:
• one (1) staff member at Bibb Correctional Facility in Brent, Alabama;
• one (1) staff member at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama;
• two (2) staff members at Kilby Correctional Facility in Montgomery, Alabama;
• one (1) staff member at St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville, Alabama;
• six (6) staff members at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama; and
• one (1) staff member at the Criminal Justice Center in Montgomery, Alabama, have tested positive for COVID-19.
These twelve (12) individuals promptly self-quarantined under the direction of their healthcare providers.
The ADOC’s OHS has initiated investigations to determine which, if any, ADOC inmates or employees may have had direct, prolonged exposure to these staff members. Upon completing the appropriate due diligence, OHS will advise any staff with direct exposure to contact their healthcare providers and self-quarantine as advised.
Seventy-two (72) COVID-19 cases among ADOC staff and contracted staff remain active. One hundred twenty-five (125) staff members who previously self-reported a positive test have been cleared by medical providers to return to work.
The ADOC has confirmed that one (1) inmate at Easterling Correctional Facility in Clio, Alabama, has tested positive for COVID-19. All existing quarantine protocols or newly implemented practices, as recommended by the ADOC’s contracted State Medical Director, are being maintained at each facility where positive inmates currently are housed.
Currently, ADOC’s OHS is awaiting final laboratory results on 56 pending tests.
Ninety-nine (99) total cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among our inmate population, sixty-one (61) of which remain active.