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COVID-19

This page is created to provide information to family members of incarcerated persons and concerned citizens regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the WA DOC population. This page will collect questions to and responses from DOC regarding COVID-19 preparedness and mitigation efforts, as well as updates regarding the current situation. Every THURSDAY from 4:30 pm - 5 pm will be a phone call for anyone to call in, share information, and ask questions. Call-in number (360) 407-3831; passcode 821205#

 

Notes from phone calls (previously were daily, now on Thursdays):

 

DOC Family Council Calls

Each facility is holding phone calls with its local family councils, with most holding them weekly. These calls have been informative and provide an opportunity to ask questions directly of facility administrators. If you have an incarcerated loved one and would like to be on the facility call, please email the local family council family co-chair (contact information can be found here) to request call-in information.

 

Airway Heights CC - Wednesdays at 2 pm

Cedar Creek - Thursdays at 2:30 pm

Clallam Bay - Fridays at 12 pm

Coyote Ridge CC - Fridays at 9 am

Larch CC - Thursdays at 2 pm

Mission Creek CC for Women - Mondays at 1 pm

Monroe CC - Fridays at 1 pm

Stafford Creek CC - Wednesdays at 3 pm

Washington Corrections Center - Thursdays at 1 pm

Washington Corrections Center for Women - Fridays at 12 pm

Washington State Penitentiary - Biweekly Mondays at 2 pm

 

**Olympic CC reported that they had only one LFC member who did not need/want the meetings.

 

All DOC local family council phone call meeting notes should be posted on the DOC family council website (click on the individual facility name to find the minutes). [OCO previously had posted some of the meeting minutes, but since I was not keeping up with it in a timely manner and they are separately provided elsewhere on the public DOC website, I am removing the handful that I had on here - JC]

 

Confirmed cases in WA DOC (updated 4/29):

  • 18 incarcerated people have tested positive, including 15 from Monroe, 1 from Washington Corrections Center, 1 from Reynolds Work Release, and 1 that was from Monroe but tested positive at a community medical center.
  • 32 staff have tested positive. For a breakdown of facilities, please see the DOC COVID-19 page

Resources

 

The following questions have been sent to DOC. The answers will be added to this webpage when they are provided:

 

The attached memo was sent out to all incarcerated individuals on March 6 by DOC Assistant Secretary Rob Herzog with basic information. A second memo was sent on March 15 that lists symptoms to watch for, to notify health services, and that copays for treatment and testing related to covid-19 will be waived.

See the above question and response that DOC sent out kiosk messages to the incarcerated population and has reportedly posted flyers in the housing units. [OCO recognizes that this does not address communication to the limited English proficient population and is following up on that.]

Yes, DOC has begun testing incarcerated people (as of March 24, 31 incarcerated people had reportedly been tested, but only six tests have come back, all negative). Aggregate testing data is available on DOC's COVID-19 website and OCO has asked for a facility breakdown of those testing numbers. 

According to DOC's COVID-19 webpage FAQs, "Department of Corrections is testing patients when the health care practitioner determines there is a need. As of Friday March 13, 2020, every facility has access to testing, but additional viral swabs have been ordered. There are three different labs that can process tests after DOC has obtained the sample. All of the tests require nose and throat swabs. Each lab has their own instructions. Regardless of the specimen type the test is the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR Diagnostic Panel developed by the CDC."

According to DOC, they are updating the daily situation report with any protocol updates and memo communication. The daily situation report is uploaded every evening to DOC's COVID-19 website.

A memo was sent out on March 15 by Jeannie Miller with the following screening protocol:

As a part of our screening process, your temperature will be taken and you will be asked the following questions.

Step 1: Have you experienced a new cough within the last 14 days?

☐         YES                            

☐         NO     

Step 2: Have you experienced a sore throat or new shortness of breath within the last 14 days?

☐         YES                            

☐         NO     

Step 3: Have you had close contact with someone who is currently sick with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19 as determined by a medical practitioner?

☐         YES                            

☐         NO     

Step 4: Have you travelled internationally within the last 14 days?

☐         YES                            

☐         NO     

Step 5: Is the individual’s temperature at or above 100.4?

☐         YES                            

☐         NO     

If the individual answers YES to any of the questions they will not be allowed into the facility/office.

DOC reported that all facilities and work release centers have access to thermometers to conduct the temperature screening.

Per the same March 15 memo by Jeannie Miller:

Those individuals that fail any portion of the enhanced screening protocol, displays obvious signs of a respiratory illness, (i.e. coughing, difficulty breathing), or refuses to participate in the screening process will be denied access to the facility/office and a supervisor should be contacted for further direction.

Entry denials and leave:

Those who are denied access will be encouraged to consult with their health care provider and follow up with human resources.  Refusing to participate in the screening process will result in assignment to home pending investigation.

As of 3/18, three women have tested positive for the flu and have been placed in quarantine. Their COVID-19 tests have come back as negative.

Per the DOC COVID-19 FAQ page:

Effective March 18, Global Tel Link started providing two (2) free phone calls of up to five (5) minutes each, every week to the incarcerated population. This will last until April 14, at which time it will be reviewed for possible additional options.

Effective March 20, JPay will be providing the following discounts for incarcerated individuals, their friends and families:

  • Reduced cost for inbound VideoGrams
  • One free video visit credit per JPay account
  • Two free stamps (or credits) each week credited individuals’ JPay accounts

According to DOC's COVID-19 webpage, "All DOC locations instituted an intensive cleaning protocol focusing on sanitizing high touch surfaces, increased personal hygiene, and posting of DOH COVID-19 and hygiene related materials in public areas and areas visible to the incarcerated population. Hand sanitizer was authorized in prison facilities for use by employees, visitors, contract staff and volunteers and are placed in areas where soap and water are not readily available. Incarcerated individuals have access to hand sanitizer in supervised locations. We are also providing free access to sanitation products for individuals inside prisons."

According to the DOC representative on OCO's public phone call on March 23, DOC is utilizing Correct Pac Germicidal Disinfectant and a diluted bleach solution. Facilities are reportedly facing the same shortage in hand sanitizer that exists elsewhere. DOC/CI has made a large purchase of hand soap that will be handed out broadly.

According to the DOC representative on OCO's public phone call on March 19, the Commissary is still open and functional. Super-C and other vitamins are available with a 20 per order maximum.

DOC will reportedly be following the same protocols as any other health concern and will not be providing notifications specific to COVID-19. Persons who become ill will still have access to telecommunications to be able to provide their own notification.

Social distancing practices were implemented on March 20 and are addressed at length on OCO's public phone call on that same day - please review the phone call notes for more information. DOC's COVID-19 website FAQs also address social distancing practices.

 

DOC has plans in place already for limited staffing based on internal scenario planning. DOC is not yet at the point of emergency staffing at any facility (as of 3/19) but is monitoring at each institution and will put plans in place as necessary.

According to DOC, they have two protocols – quarantine and isolation. Quarantine is for folks that are asymptomatic but have potentially been exposed either on their living unit or in another area that protects them and the population and staff. For those that are symptomatic, DOC isolates them to a specific place and provide ongoing nursing care, conduct testing for both the flu and COVID-19 and monitors them for the 14 day period until they’re asymptomatic and assessed to be released again. 

According to DOC, there is a nationwide shortage and they are continually working to source any additional PPE. They are in similar PPE shape as local communities. As has been publicized by DOC, Correctional Industries is now working to create protective gowns and plans to work on creating protective masks and hand sanitizer.

Yes, all persons entering the facilities will be temperature screened and asked the screening questions.

Reportedly that is not correct and the phones should be operational.

At this time (3/24) there are no positive diagnoses of COVID-19, but contingency planning is in progress. In line with current practice, if an individual needs critical care beyond a facility can provide, they would be transferred to a local hospital for treatment.

DOC does not have equipment or training to provide care if someone needs machine assistance to breathe. That person would need to be transported to a local hospital for treatment.

Tom Fithian is the coordinator for the entire DOC pandemic response, including security protocols. Subject matter experts are utilized to inform different aspects of the response planning. In terms of infectious disease, Dr. Lara Strick works for DOC and is an expert in infectious disease. Her professional medical expertise has been instrumental in the agency's infectious disease planning.

All reports indicate that everything is being processed per policy timeframes - 2 business days for physical mail and 7 business days for JPAY messages. Reportedly, facilities are processing JPAY messages in much less time, although this may vary based on staffing. Knowing how important these communications are, the agency will continue to monitor these timeframes and work to keep the turnaround times low.

Facilities are using the resources available to them for advanced cleaning. Some use disinfecting wipes, some use disinfectant solutions and paper towels. Phone handsets should be disinfected between each use.

According to the FAQs on DOC's COVID-19 website

Are incarcerated individual work crews still in operation in facilities?

  • For crews within institutions, work crew sizes have been limited to no more than 10 individuals. Depending on size of work area, crews may exceed 10 if social distancing (6 foot rule) can be managed.
  • Symptomatic incarcerated workers are not allowed to go to work.
  • Handwashing and sanitizing are being increased while at work.
  • Hygiene and sanitation education are being increased for all workers.

Are incarcerated individual work crews still in operation outside of facilities?

No, with the following exceptions:

  • DNR crews with no community interaction are going into the forests for planting.
  • Cedar Creek Corrections Center is approved to send crews to McNeil Island for operations on the island, and to the Correctional Industries headquarters.

According to the most recent information from the CDC, COVID-19 is transmitted through person to person contact within six feet, generally through coughing, sneezing, etc. See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/transmission.html There is currently no evidence to suggest that the disease would circulate through the air to infect someone. 

OCO is still awaiting confirmation, but preliminary research indicates that both Hepastat and the germicidal disinfectant are EPA-approved, which is what the CDC recommends. DOC is also using a diluted bleach solution.

 

 

 

 

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