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One in seven York County Prison inmates had COVID-19: Warden

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York County Prison's COVID-19 outbreak is so widespread that more than 1 in 7 inmates has tested positive so far.

As of Wednesday, 140 inmates have COVID-19 out of a total population of 971, according to Warden Adam Ogle. That translates to 14.4% of the current population.

Ogle cautioned that number would change daily as inmates either recover from the disease or more inmates test positive. Indeed, a few hours after providing the initial figure, he provided a new number — 120 — which meant that 1 in 8 inmates was    infected with the disease.

The prison went into lockdown the day before Thanksgiving, amid rising caseloads, on the advice of an infectious disease nurse. County officials confirmed the lockdown to The York Dispatch earlier this week.

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For comparison, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections reported 244 active cases of COVID-19 at state facilities as of Wednesday. That reflects roughly 0.7% of the total population statewide.

On-site visitation has been suspended and only essential travel for inmates has been approved. 

According to county spokesperson Mark Walters, essential travel includes all necessary medical appointments, court-related matters that cannot be conducted in a housing unit and releases.

Ogle said in an email that the prison was following guidelines set forth by medical provider PrimeCare, the state Department of Corrections and various health officials.

READ MORE: COVID-19 outbreak sends York County Prison into lockdown

Among those recommendations are the testing and quarantining of new admissions as well as sick individuals; "robust" testing in units where individuals have tested positive; minimizing the number of staff and inmates gathering in a single area; and the use of cleaning crews, contact tracing and regular COVID meetings to discuss solutions.

"It is important to note that all staff and inmates are required to wear masks, and have been throughout the entire pandemic," Ogle said. "Due to the current number of COVID cases, we have mandated that all staff wear a [N95 respirator] mask."

When asked how many employees of York County Prison had tested positive, Ogle said he could not disclose that information.

READ MORE: WellSpan delays non-emergency procedures amid spiking COVID-19 cases

York County Commissioner Doug Hoke said he didn't have an update on the outbreak after the Board of Commissioners meeting Wednesday

"I don't. I know it's fluid every day," said Hoke, who serves as president of the Prison Board of Inspectors. 

President Commissioner Julie Wheeler said Wednesday that she knew there was a COVID-19 outbreak at the prison but did not have any further information.

The Prison Board of Inspectors meets next Wednesday.

This article was updated to include a new number of inmates who tested positive for COVID-19.

Matt Enright can be reached via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.

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