JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) announced it will be ramping up COVID-19 testing after 17 inmates tested positive the last two weeks at South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville. MDOC and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) will conduct double testing, once this week and again next week..
Of the 17 inmates housed in three separate units at SMCI, healthcare officials at the prison said most show no symptoms, with only one hospitalized because of a heart condition. However, because 500 inmates comprise the total population of those units, MDOC will rapid test all 500 Wednesday, November 25, with MSDH testing again next week. Those testing positive will be moved to a separate quarantine unit. Currently, SMCI has 900 available beds.
“We are doing everything humanly possible to ensure the safety of inmates and corrections officers,” said Corrections Commissioner Burl Cain. “We are using state-of-the-art electrostatic sanitizing sprayers every day in every unit to keep all viruses and bacteria down. We’ve purchased industrial Ultra-violet sterilization lights like those used in hospitals, portable UV sterilizers, hand wand UV sterilizers, air purifiers, and whole sanitization stations that lightly mist as staff and inmates walk through the unit. Where needed, we are replacing uniforms, bedding, pillow cases, and mattresses. We’ve bought 60,000 reusable masks in addition to paper masks. We enforce hand sanitizing, social distancing, masks, and require every corrections officer, administration staffer, and vendor to screen every time they enter the prison. The fact that the virus still gets through all these stringent measures shows how contagious COVID-19 is.”