Large COVID-19 outbreak at Bethel jail

The Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center in Bethel, where 46 of 207 people incarcerated have tested positive for COVID-19. (Alaska Public Media)

A large outbreak of COVID-19 has swept the Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center in Bethel. As of Dec. 3, there were 46 active cases of COVID-19 among the 207 people incarcerated. Since the pandemic began, a total of 65 inmates and nine staff members have tested positive for the virus.

Alaska Department of Corrections Public Information Officer Sarah Gallagher said people who’ve test positive for COVID-19 have been placed in a separate cohort together, due to the limited number of individual cells. They are monitored daily for symptoms, and receiving medical care when necessary.

Gallagher said other individuals are being tested every three days, which will continue until no new positive cases are identified for 14 days.

Staff are advised to get tested if they’re a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Gallagher said staff members are required to receive a negative test result or quarantine for 14 days before returning to work. Employees also have their temperatures checked before every shift.

The Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center has a maximum capacity of 232 inmates.

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