Two more Alabama Department of Corrections employees have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to six staff members at six state facilities.
Alabama Department of Corrections spokeswoman Samantha Rose in a response to APR on Tuesday said that one worker at the Bullock Correctional Facility in Union Springs and an employee at the Elba Community-based facility and work center have both tested positive.
“However, we can confirm that no inmates in our custody have tested positive for COVID-19,” Rose said in the message.
According to ADOC’s testing data as of Friday, 46 inmates had been tested and none had the virus. Ten tests were awaiting results. As of Tuesday afternoon, ADOC’s website hadn’t been updated to include the two additional staff members who tested positive for COVID-19. Rose said that the website would be updated later on Tuesday.
Four other ADOC staff members had already tested positive for the virus, including a worker at the St. Clair Correctional Facility, Staton Correctional Facility, Limestone Correctional Facility and an employee at Elmore Correctional Facility.
A man at Limestone prison called APR on Monday evening and said inmates are very nervous, that a cook at the prison had tested positive and that beds were being brought into the prison’s gym. APR is not identifying the inmate but did confirm his identity.
The man said correctional officers two days before began wearing masks, and inmates were being asked to come into the health care unit for medication one at a time, and were having their temperatures taken when inside.
Asked what the mood was among inmates at Limestone prison, the man said “they’re real panicky. They know something’s up.”
In a response to APR’s questions about the beds being moved into the gym, Rose said for security purposes ADOC “will not disclose areas within its facilities or on its grounds that will be used to quarantine inmates who may be symptomatic or may test positive for COVID-19.” Doing so would compromise ADOC’s ability to move inmates safely throughout the facility, she said.
In response to a question about Limestone’s head cook testing positive, Rose noted the six staff members who have tested positive for the virus, which includes one at Limestone.
“As a point of clarification, the ADOC does not test its staff for COVID-19, nor are we legally able to require staff testing as an employer. This is true of most public and private entities,” Rose said. “If a staff member becomes symptomatic, he or she must contact his or her physician, who subsequently will order a COVID-19 test so long as certain CDC criteria are met.”
“Per HIPPA regulations, the ADOC is not allowed to inquire about a staff member’s personal health conditions, including the results of a COVID-19 test. Staff members, of their own free will, can self-report a positive test result to our Office of Health Services,” Rose said.
“When the ADOC verifies a positive test among staff through self-reporting, ADOC is then able to share a public update on the result. This update will not include personal information,” Rose said. “We certainly encourage (but absolutely do not require) staff to self-report, as it allows us to update any others who may have had direct, prolonged exposure to someone with a positive test to self-quarantine for the recommended 14-day period.”