Pa. prison system working to stop COVID-19 spread after inmates, staff test positive


Two inmates and four employees have tested positive for coronavirus

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(WKBN) – The head of Pennsylvania’s prison system is taking steps to stop the spread of coronavirus cases.

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The commonwealth operates 24 facilities like the one near Mercer.

Right now, the Department of Corrections found two inmates — both in SCI Phoenix, near Philadelphia — as well as four employees that have tested positive for COVID-19. Officials say they are not identifying the staff members due to state regulations

That prompted quarantines to be imposed throughout the prison system.

“That just means really limited movement, basically out-of-cell time will take place on the housing unit and within small groups, trying to achieve social distancing in the places we can,” said Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel.

In addition to supplying all staff members with protective masks, temperature scans are conducted on suppliers and others who have to visit the prisons to limit the possibility of outsiders exposing inmates or staff.

“One of the approaches we chose to take was identifying areas that were going to become pressure points, and I would define pressure points as areas where we thought, at some point, it was gonna become, ‘we’re either going to be a critical shortage or it’s gonna become and issue,'” Wetzel said.

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