HAUSER — After a surge of coronavirus cases throughout the month of April, Shutter Creek Correctional Institution has not recorded a new case of COVID-19 since the beginning of May.
“We wouldn’t call it over but we usually use about two incubation periods — maximum incubation periods so that would be 14 days times two so 28 days — without a case where we would start feeling pretty good about the fact that Shutter Creek might be wrapped up,” said Coos Health and Wellness epidemiologist Brian Leon.
“I would say given the environment and everything it looks really, really promising right now. The fact that at least one incubation period has come and gone. I’m starting to get really optimistic.”
The last positive case was reported on May 2. At the minimum security prison 25 adults in custody have tested positive in addition to two employees. One employee, who tested negative, was deemed a presumptive positive. There have been 61 negative tests from adults in custody and, as of now, no tests are pending.
“In regards to SCCI, things are getting better and testing has slowed because we have tested all asymptomatic AICs who want to be tested. The longer we go without newly symptomatic patients, the better,” wrote Department of Corrections Communication Manager Jennifer Black in an email.
“We will be offering antibody testing to all AICs on C3 in order to see whom is now presumptively immune, which should help reduce the numbers on C3 even more.” All positive cases came from adults in custody who were in the C3 unit.
The first positive case of coronavirus at Shutter Creek was confirmed on April 9. The adult in custody had transferred to the facility on March 11. The second cases of the virus at the facility was reported on April 18. Over the next week cases continued to rise.
Individuals who tested positive were transferred from the facility and those who were showing symptoms were put in a separate unit. The Centers for Disease Control guidelines stated for the quarantining of individuals with symptoms at congregate facilities, Shutter Creek did not have the means to isolate individuals in this manner.
Protocols were put in place to slow the disease and while no other adults in custody tested positive outside of the C3 unit, there were multiple reports of individuals in other units showing symptoms and either testing negative or refusing to be tested.
“Not knowing what will happen to me if I test positive makes me not want to take a test,” said Chris Mitchell, an adult in custody at Shutter Creek. Mitchell was quoted in a lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Corrections.
“This is my home facility and it took 18 months for me to get here. This is where my family is. If I get sent to Coffee Creek, I don’t know if I can come back, and I don’t want to take that chance. I want to be told honestly what would happen. At least then I’d know, and I could worry less about it.”