One in 10 York County Prison inmates have COVID in latest outbreak

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York County Prison is once again experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak as 98 inmates have tested positive for the virus, Deputy Warden Valerie Conway said Thursday.

With a total inmate population of 934, that means more than one in 10 currently have COVID-19. This, of course, comes amid a larger countywide outbreak due to the spread of the omicron variant.

"Historically, when there has been a rise in cases in the community, the prison has also experienced a rise in cases," Conway said.

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In the past 24 hours alone, the county reported 1,171 new cases, nearing 100,000 total cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

York County Prison has been dealing with a rise in COVID cases since before Thanksgiving, when the prison went on lockdown due to the number of cases at the facility.

At its height, that outbreak saw 140 inmates with the disease.

READ MORE: York County on the verge of 100,000 COVID-19 cases since start of pandemic

PA Prison Society Prison Monitoring Director Noah Barth said that the organization had not heard from any York County Prison inmates regarding the rise in COVID cases. The organization advocates on behalf of prisoners, formerly incarcerated people and their families.

Earlier this week, Northampton County Prison in Easton suspended its work release program after reporting that 33 inmates had COVID.

Mitigation efforts: Conway said the prison was still operating under the modified protocols that they had put in place after the previous lockdown.

"Our staff and contracted staff are all continuing mitigation efforts to deal with the increase," Conway said.

READ MORE: Modified lockdown coming at York County Prison

That includes allowing housing units that are considered "clean" to conduct normal activities. To reach that status, inmates in those housing units must test negative twice.

Inmates who test positive stay in a quarantined unit for 14 days from the onset of their symptoms. 

Conway said visits are continuing for those inmates who had tested negative for the virus.

— Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.