Lemon Creek Correctional Center, seen in this April 10, 2020 photo, has its first confirmed case of the coronavirus, according to Alaska Department of Corrections. The person who tested positive for COVID-19 is an unidentified corrections officer. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Lemon Creek Correctional Center, seen in this April 10, 2020 photo, has its first confirmed case of the coronavirus, according to Alaska Department of Corrections. The person who tested positive for COVID-19 is an unidentified corrections officer. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

LCCC takes action as corrections officer tests positive for coronavirus

It’s the first confirmed case in the Alaska DOC

A Lemon Creek Correctional Center corrections officer is the first Alaska Department of Corrections faculty member to test positive for the coronavirus, according to DOC.

The Department of Corrections announced the positive test Thursday night.

“DOC is working with the State Epidemiology team and are currently reviewing institutional video and building a list of close contacts — to include both staff and inmates,” said Sarah Gallagher, a DOC spokesperson, in an email. “DOC is working closely with state and public health officials to follow the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) containment models in an effort to quickly identify, notify and quarantine any individuals who may have been exposed.”

Gallagher confirmed the employee is a corrections officer, but it’s the state’s policy not to release any more information about patients. Part of the efforts of the state will be to identify and test anyone the patient may have come in contact with. No inmates have yet tested positive, Gallagher said.

“Following our plan, Lemon Creek provided cloth face coverings to all inmates and staff to prevent further possible transmission of the virus,” Gallagher said. “Fortunately, DOC has been heavily engaged in proactive mitigation efforts for weeks in anticipation of a positive case in a facility, and we were ready for this moment.”

[State confirms LCCC employee tests positive for COVID-19]

The Alaska DOC has been modeling possible disease outbreaks within its prisons since January, she said, putting together a working group to model possible infections and develop preventative measures in accordance with CDC’s best practices.

“Even prior to yesterday, inmate movement within the institution was already greatly restricted, cleaning efforts were enhanced, additional hygiene products had been made available, non-essential personnel, visitors and volunteers had been restricted from entering the building and only core facility operations continued,” Gallagher said.

Coordination with other law enforcement agencies, including the Juneau Police Department, will continue with some modifications to maintain safety for the community, staff, and inmates.

“This doesn’t change things too much on our end. In early March, we implemented some modifications to our handoff procedures when taking someone to the jail. The purpose at that time was to limit unnecessary contact whenever possible,” said Lt. Krag Campbell of the JPD in an email. “This was for both our staff and LCCC staff. This change, along with increased use of personal protection equipment, should allow our officers to maintain safety protocols.”

The prison is likewise modifying its operational protocols to keep from introducing infection into the population via a new inmate. LCCC currently has 85 staff and 219 inmates, Gallagher said.

[Have you responded to the census?]

“All newly remanded inmates are screened upon arrival, to include a temperature check and questions about symptoms and recent travel,” Gallagher said. “Remands may be quarantined or isolated before being introduced to the general population based on the outcome of that screening.”

LCCC superintendent Bob Cordle did not return calls for comment.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757.621.1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

More in News

FILE - Tara Sweeney, a Republican seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Sweeney's campaign manager said, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, that the campaign did not plan to sue over a finding released by Alaska elections officials stating that she cannot advance to the special election for U.S. House following the withdrawal of another candidate. (AP Photo / Mark Thiessen, File)
Alaska Supreme Court ruling keeps Sweeney off House ballot

In a brief written order, the high court said it affirmed the decision of a Superior Court judge.

President Joe Biden signs into law S. 2938, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act gun safety bill, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Saturday, June 25, 2022. First lady Jill Biden looks on at right. (AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President signs landmark gun measure, says ‘lives will be saved’

The House gave final approval Friday, following Senate passage Thursday.

Three people were arrested over several days in a series of events stemming from a June 16 shoplifting incident, with a significant amount of methamphetamine seized. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Shoplifting investigation leads to arrests on drug charges

Significant amounts of drugs and loose cash, as well as stolen goods, were found.

Ben Gaglioti, an ecologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, stands next to a mountain hemlock tree damaged in winter on the outer coast of Glacier Bay National Park in Southeast Alaska. (Courtesy Photos / Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Bonsai trees tell of winters long past

By Ned Rozell A GREEN PLATEAU NORTH OF LITUYA BAY — “These… Continue reading

This photo shows a return envelope from the recent special primary election for Alaska's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. On Friday, a judge sided with the state elections office on a decision to omit fifth-place finisher Tara Sweeney from ballots in the special general election. Al Gross, who finished third in the special primary, dropped out of the race, creating confusing circumstances ahead of Alaska's first ranked choice vote. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Judge rules Sweeney wont advance to special election

Decision has Sweeney off the ballot for special election.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Saturday, June 25, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of June 19

Here’s what to expect this week.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Peter Froehlich, a retired Juneau district judge who is now a volunteer tour guide, explains the history of the history of the Kimball Theatre Pipe Organ in the State Office Building to a group of visitors Thursday. The organ has been idle since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now needs repairs before regular Friday lunchtime concerts and other performances on the 94-year-old instrument can resume.
Historic organ is in need of tuneup

How much it will cost and who will do it remain up in the air.

Candidate for Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives Tara Sweeney, a Republican, was in Juneau on Monday, May 16, 2022, and sat down with the Empire for an interview. A lawsuit filed Thursday challenges a decision to omit Sweeney from ballots in the upcoming Aug. 16 special election. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Lawsuit says Sweeney should advance in House race

The lawsuit says the Division of Elections misinterpreted state law.

Most Read