Inmate at Goose Creek Correctional tests positive for coronavirus

Goose Creek Prison. Photo by Ellen Lockyer, KSKA - Anchorage.
Goose Creek Prison. (Photo by Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage)

An inmate at the Goose Creek Correctional Center in Wasilla has tested positive for the coronavirus. It’s the first inmate in Alaska’s correctional system to have a positive test. 

The inmate has been in isolation since April 19, according to a statement from the Department of Corrections. The department says it received confirmation of the positive result at 9 p.m. Saturday, and alerted the staff at the facility late Saturday night.  

Just four tests have been taken of inmates at Goose Creek. Of those, one test has come back negative and two are still pending. 

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The department says that it is working with the state’s Division of Epidemiology to conduct a contact tracing investigation.

Previously, seven staff at Juneau’s Lemon Creek Correctional Center had tested positive for the virus, though no inmates had. In all, the state says it has tested 63 inmates in the state’s system with 54 results coming back negative and eight still pending.  

Goose Creek Correctional Center (Photo from Department of Corrections)

The positive case was not included in the state’s latest count of COVID-19 cases, but will be included in Monday’s numbers. 

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The Department of Health and Social Services says that during the 24-hour period Saturday, two new cases were reported. Of those, one was a patient at a Sitka long-term care facility whose diagnosis was previously reported. The second case was in North Pole.

Goose Creek is a medium-security prison with a total of over 1,535 beds, according to the state’s website. In late March, the Department of Corrections announced new protocols to reduce the possibility of the coronavirus spreading within their facilities, such as conducting temperature screenings prior to the start of every staff members shift, stopping all family visitation and closing facility lobbies to the public. 

This is a developing story.

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Lex Treinen covers culture, homelessness, politics and corrections for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@alaskapublic.org.

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