Apr 02, 2020 2:00 AM

The Latest: Coronavirus cases at Kansas prison

Posted Apr 02, 2020 2:00 AM

TOPEKA —The Department of Corrections announced Tuesday night that three employees at the Lansing Correctional Facility are recovering at home from COVID-19 in the first positive diagnoses in the state prison system. Inmates who had close contact with the workers have been moved to medical isolation where they will be monitored for symptoms.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Rebecca Witte said staff in the state’s prison system are using protective equipment only when treating inmates who are ill with coronavirus or who are suspected of having it. She said it would require 13,500 sets of equipment each day to have all staff use them as a preventive measure, and the supply chain “is not going to support it.”

Kelly said the state is “really at the exploratory phase right now on what action we may or may not need to take regarding our corrections facilities.”

“They’re understandably frightened,” Sarah LaFrenz, president of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said of prison staff.

Health officials reported 482 cases Wednesday, up 54 from Tuesday. 

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TOPEKA – Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) Secretary Jeff Zmuda announced Tuesday that three staff members working at Lansing Correctional Facility (LCF) tested positive for COVID-19. These are the first positive cases within a KDOC facility, according to a media release from the department.

The staff include a male over the age of 20 and two females over the age of 40. In order to protect the identity of these staff, no other information will be released.

The KDOC has been in consultation with officials from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) on next steps to address these circumstances. As a result of that consultation with KDHE, the following steps are being implemented immediately:

  1. A medical investigation to ascertain who among our staff and residents have been in close contact with these staff
  2. Notifying those persons that they have had contact with a COVID-19 confirmed case
  3. Moving those residents who have had close contact to medical isolation where they will be monitored for symptoms
  4. And remaining diligent in monitoring other staff and residents for symptoms

“With a virus that moves and changes as quickly as the coronavirus we anticipated that this day may come,” Zmuda said. “With the support and guidance of KDHE and Governor Kelly, and the hard work of our staff members, we are ready to care for our residents and those we serve in the community.”