Lemon Creek Correctional Center has its first confirmed case of the coronavirus, April 10, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Lemon Creek Correctional Center has its first confirmed case of the coronavirus, April 10, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Lemon Creek Correctional Center staff member tests positive for coronavirus

This will be the 11th case in the hard-hit facility.

Another staff member at Lemon Creek Correctional Center has tested positive for coronavirus, said an Alaska Department of Health and Social Services spokesperson in a release.

This is the 11th staff member of LCCC to become infected, said DHSS spokesperson Clinton Bennett in the release. The first staff member tested positive more than a month ago and prompted preventative action. The most recent cases, 9 and 10, were confirmed last week on May 11.

“With the last positive case, the state epidemiology team recommended testing all inmates and staff,” said Sarah Gallagher, a spokesperson with the Department of Corrections. “Public health conducted the tests last Thursday and Friday, and we are expecting those results either later today or tomorrow.”

So far, 30 people from Juneau, including the new case, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to City and Borough of Juneau. Twenty-eight people have recovered.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and breathing trouble. Most people develop mild symptoms, but some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.

Test results are usually returned quickly but can take longer depending on who conducts the tests, Gallagher said.

“DOC is seeing a two to three days turnaround for tests as they are being sent to labs within the state,” Gallagher said. “However, some staff members do get tested through their personal health care providers, which generally take longer to come back.”

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The investigation of the infection spread has encompassed all 11 staff members with confirmed cases. Gallagher said previously that the investigation was using the prison’s surveillance footage to identify contact points comprehensively.

“Since February, DOC has been altering operations and implementing new policies to keep those who live and work in our institutions healthy,” Gallagher said. “Our first positive case in a staff member was discovered case on April 9, and since then DOC and LCCC staff have remained vigilant in protecting the inmates from the virus. There have been no operational changes at LCCC and we continue to follow our Response Plan.”

LCCC was the first Department of Corrections facility to have a member of the staff or inmate with a confirmed case of the coronavirus.

As of April 15, LCCC had 85 staff members and 219 inmates, Gallagher said in a previous email. The prison took rapid action to isolate infected staff from the prison, sending them home and not recertifying them to return to work until they’d been cleared by the state’s public health teams, Gallagher said.

LCCC has also been part of a statewide effort to manufacture cloth masks for health professionals and first responders, Gallagher said.

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

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