North Carolina will test all employees at three prisons for COVID-19 in a pilot project aimed at stemming the spread of the virus, which has infected about 10 percent of state prison inmates, reports the Raleigh News & Observer. The testing, which began Monday, will be conducted at Scotland Correctional Institution in Lauringburg, the Dan River Work Farm, northeast of Greensboro, and the Greene Correctional Institution, 80 miles east of Raleigh. All three prisons have COVID-19 outbreaks. At Scotland Correctional, more than 400 inmates have tested positive and two have died from the disease.
As of Monday, 1,050 of the state’s roughly 14,000 prison staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, said prison spokesman John Bull. At least one staff member has died. — Barbara Stewart, a nurse at Caswell Correctional Center — has died from the disease. Of the staff members who tested positive, 792 have returned to work after meeting the criteria for medical recovery. Nearly 3,400 inmates have tested positive. Seventeen inmates have died. In the new project, staff will be required to take a self-administered nasal swab test provided by LabCorp. When coronavirus spreads inside a prison, it can endanger people on the outside, too. That’s because staff members can carry the virus to their families and communities. So can some of the 2,000 people released from state prisons each month.