A new COVID-19 treatment center at James Vaughn Prison near Smyrna

A new COVID-19 treatment center at James Vaughn Prison near Smyrna

The COVID-19 outbreak at Sussex County Correctional Institution (SCI) near Georgeteown is rapidly growing, according to prison officials.

As of July 8, the Delaware Department of Correction said 122 inmates have COVID-19. 119 are from SCI while three are from the Morris Community Corrections Center (MCCC) in Dover.

Of those, 95 are asymptomatic while 27 are exhibiting symptoms of the contagious respiratory virus, the Delaware DOC reported.

The growth in cases comes after DOC identified three inmate cases at SCI last week, just days after in-person visitation had been reinstated at all DOC facilities following six weeks of inmates being COVID-free across all prison facilities. Additionally, the cluster of inmates, last week, marked the first sight of infection in the inmate population at SCI.

DOC said the MCCC inmates, who tested positive, likely got the infection from inmates who had recently arrived at SCI and tested positive for the virus while being quarantined during intake. 

Of the 122 inmates, 70 have been transferred to the COVID treatment center on the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center's campus in Smyrna. One is being treated in the prison infirmary, while three others are hospitalized in stable condition.  

Forty-eight other inmates from SCI who tested positive are being held in isolation and will be moved to the COVID-19 Treatment Center at Vaughn this week.

The DOC is taking various steps to mitigate further spread of COVID 19. All nearly 900 SCI inmates have been issued face masks. All inmates in housing units where COVID was identified are receiving twice-daily temperature checks, health screenings, and pulse oxygen level testing.

Three dozen inmates over the age of 60 with underlying health conditions, who've so far tested negative for the virus, are also being moved to a vacant building on Vaughn's campus to ensure they remain COVID-free, prison officials said.

All visitation and SCI and programming remains temporarily suspended in the wake of the virus outbreak. Visitation is continuing at other prison facilities, where prison officials said visitors are subject to rigorous screening methods. 

Across all correctional facilities, 22 DOC staff and three healthcare contractors have testing positive for COVID-19 while 87 staffers and contractors have already recovered from the virus.