State trying to get COVID outbreak under control at Blackburn

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Kentucky Department of Corrections continues to battle its latest coronavirus outbreak in a prison, this one at the minimum-security Blackburn Correctional facility in Lexington.

“The Department of Corrections has taken, and will continue to take, aggressive steps to protect the safety and security of all staff and inmates incarcerated in Kentucky state prisons,” said Kentucky Department of Corrections Commissioner Cookie Crews. “All efforts made by DOC to date have been implemented at the direction of the Department for Public Health in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for correctional settings.”

As of Monday, Blackburn Correctional Complex has had 14 total staff cases, with 11 cases currently active; 136 total inmate cases which are all still active. Blackburn currently has one inmate hospitalization. They had one staff hospitalization but the staff member has since been released. They have had no staff or inmate deaths due to COVID-19. The first inmate case was on Nov. 4. The first staff case was Aug. 7, and the second case was Oct. 31, according to spokesperson Katherine Williams.

The prison houses about 320 inmates with 147 staff. It includes a thoroughbred horse retirement farm.

According to Williams, the prison has taken numerous steps to ensure that positive inmates are isolated from the rest of the population. The prison has been separated into four distinct housing areas: 1) positive inmates, 2) negative inmates with direct exposure, 3) negative inmates with no exposure, and 4) medically vulnerable inmates.

The separation is done in order to better manage and care for those inmates who have tested positive and to try and prevent the virus from spreading further.

Staff and inmates have been educated on how to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19, and how to prevent the spread of the virus through good personal hygiene, and social distancing. DOC remains committed to working diligently to minimize health risks and following the guidance from the CDC for Correctional and Detention Facilities,” Williams stated.

“Medical staff are closely monitoring the inmates at Blackburn Correctional Complex and those who are medically vulnerable are checked regularly throughout the day. All DOC facilities have enhanced sanitization and staff are medically screened upon entry. Cloth masks for inmates and staff were provided in early April and have been supplemented to ensure staff and inmates have a fresh one available at all times. Masks are mandatory for all staff and inmates. Inmates are also provided with cleaning supplies and extra soap,” she continued. 

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