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Oregon's first inmate tests positive for COVID-19

The man is an inmate at Santiam Correctional Institution in Salem.

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) announced the first adult in custody within the state’s prison system has tested positive for coronavirus. The man is an inmate at Santiam Correctional Institution in Salem.

DOC said they received the positive test results on Thursday, Apr. 2. The inmate is stable and is being treated on-site. Soon he will be moved to an institution with 24-hour nursing care.

“We have been preparing for the spread of COVID-19 into our institutions, worksites and Community Corrections offices since the beginning of March,” Director Colette S. Peters said in an email.

“Even with all of our preventative measures, like restricting visiting, social distancing, and suspending any programs, we knew the first case was inevitable because our institutions are a microcosm of our communities.”

DOC said it is now contacting everyone who came into Santiam Correctional Institution in the last seven days. All adults in custody at the prison will be screened and anyone with symptoms will be tested for COVID-19.

Santiam Correctional Institution is a minimum-security prison that has approximately 480 adults in custody who are within four years of being released.

On Wednesday, Apr. 1, DOC announced that an employee at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem had tested positive for coronavirus. Doctors, nurses and volunteers were taking temperatures of hundreds of inmates who may have had contact with the infected employee.

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