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Utah State Prison seeing new COVID-19 outbreak

Posted at 2:16 PM, Sep 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-04 00:05:43-04

DRAPER, Utah — The Utah State Prison is trying to contain a new outbreak of the coronavirus.

As of Friday morning, eight cases had been discovered in the prison’s Oquirrh 2 section, said Colleen Guymon, the prison’s director of clinical services.

“At this point, we are doing ongoing testing in correlation with our health department,” Guymon said. “We have all of that area quarantined, of course, removing anybody who’s positive, testing anybody immediately that’s developed symptoms or displayed symptoms.”

According to the Department of Corrections, 86% of the prison’s inmates have chosen to get vaccinated. In Oquirrh 2, the rate is only 60%.

Outbreaks can lead to lock downs and the loss of phone call opportunities for inmates, said Wendy Parmley, the director of medical and mental health issues for the Utah Prisoner Advocate Network. The group advocates for inmates and their families.

“The greatest stress is families not being able to know how their loved ones are doing,” Parmley said.

The Department of Corrections has a hotline for families asking questions about their loved ones in prison. Families can call 801-545-5505.

The coronavirus killed 18 inmates at Utah’s two prisons in the fall and winter. There have been no reported deaths since January.

In all, the pandemic has sickened 3,376 inmates and about 450 prison staff, according to Department of Corrections data.