GLOBE — The state prison in Globe is dealing with a COVID outbreak with more than 100 inmates testing positive for the virus in the past week.
Officials say 116 inmates tested positive as a result of saturation testing on Nov. 12.
“Among those inmates who were tested, only three were symptomatic and were moved to our Florence facility for medical observation,” said Judy Keane, a spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Corrections. “Those who are asymptomatic are being cohorted together and medically monitored at the Globe unit. They are being kept apart from those who tested negative.”
While the DOC manages the prison in Globe, at 1000 Fairgrounds Road, the Gila County Sheriff’s Office oversees the jail.
So far, since March, no inmates at the jail have tested positive, said Sgt. Matt Binney with the GCSO.
Binney said several officers tested positive earlier in the year, but all recovered and are back to work.
“We have been very fortunate,” he said.
When the pandemic arrived around March, the GCSO lowered the number of inmates in the jail. They also designated a holding cell for any inmates complaining of COVID-like symptoms, where they could be separated from the rest of the population.
Compared to October 2019, when the jail housed 170 inmates, the Globe jail had 146 inmates this October. Binney said it is a slight decrease.
Binney said inmates sometimes claim they are having COVID symptoms so they can avoid going to jail. If they don’t have a fever or a cough, they won’t send them to the hospital.
Binney said they screen each inmate and if there is concern, they may have been exposed, they have the inmate wear a mask and stay in an isolated cell.
For the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry (ADCRR), curbing the number of infections starts with intake. All incoming prisoners are monitored at the intake facility, like ASPC-Phoenix, for 14 days before they are moved to their assigned location.
“It is also important to note that ADCRR is one of only a handful of state correctional agencies in the country to mass test their entire inmate population,” Keane said. “ADCRR continues to conduct broad testing including the testing of all inmates upon intake and a week prior to scheduled release. Health care personnel who have direct patient contact with those who are medically high-risk are also tested regularly. ADCRR continues to isolate and test inmates with flu-like symptoms and continues to retest as needed. If necessary, inmates are transported to the hospital when they require that level of care.”
Following guidelines consistent with the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and the CDC, ADCRR encourages staff and inmates to regularly wash their hands, sanitize surfaces and cover coughs and sneezes.
“Cleaning supplies are ample and available as part of the continuous, and rigorous cleaning schedule throughout every complex,” she said. “Inmates are issued personal soap and it is replaced any time the inmate requests it. ADCRR has also expanded on the typical yearly flu vaccination efforts for inmates and staff. While the vaccinations are not mandatory for staff or inmates, their availability and importance is being widely communicated to everyone. The department has secured enough influenza vaccines for every inmate.”