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Utah Department Of Corrections Says It Is Working To Contain COVID-19 Outbreak

A photo of Mike Haddon sitting in a chair.
Screengrab from a Utah Department of Corrections video.
Mike Haddon, executive director of the Utah Department of Corrections, said they are working to keep a COVID-19 outbreak at their Draper facility under control.

Officials from Utah’s Department of Corrections say they are working to contain a COVID-19 outbreak in two housing blocks at the Draper prison.

Of the 327 inmates housed in the two blocks, 196 have tested positive for the disease, according to Mike Haddon, the department’s executive director. He said they’re doing their best to keep it from spreading.

“We’re providing medical care, mental health counseling for those that are quarantined,” he said. “And we are housing some positives and negatives together but we are trying to keep them as separate as we can.”

Haddon said the majority of the cases are asymptomatic or showing very mild symptoms. As of Monday, more than 2,000 inmates of around 4,500 inmates housed across all facilities in Draper have been tested. Since the start of the pandemic 210 tests have returned positive.

Haddon said they are focused now on keeping the outbreak from spreading to other locations in Gunnison or to county jails where inmates are sometimes transferred. He said they have also implemented certain protocols, like restricting visitor access and supplying masks to inmates.

However, he said a majority of inmates who have tested positive for the disease worked on the culinary team. He said they are working to get assistance from other units as the team is responsible for making about 9,000 meals a day.

As for the prison staff, Haddon said they have full personal protective equipment and they have been deep cleaning shared stations. So far, 50 staff members have tested positive for the disease but more than half have recovered.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Utah health officials announced another 716 positive cases statewide. The state’s seven day average of new cases also hit 1,035 — a new record for the state since the start of the pandemic.

Ross Terrell is the managing editor at KUER.
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