COVID-19 testing under way at High Desert State Prison, officials say

Local News
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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — COVID-19 testing of inmates and staff is under way at High Desert State Prison, where there have been four inmate positive tests and numerous staff positives.

The prison, about 45 miles north of Las Vegas on US 95, will test all inmates and staff on Tuesday.

High Desert was the first Nevada Department of Corrections prison to report a positive test involving an inmate. That report came last week and involved a man transferred from the Clark County Detention Center. On Monday, three more inmates brought from CCDC tested positive at the prison’s intake unit, a spokesman said.

“Standard intake operations require all offenders be isolated for a minimum of 20 days, which allows NDOC medical staff to monitor for symptoms during the generally accepted 14-day incubation period of COVID-19,” according to Scott Kelley, NDOC public information officer.

On Wednesday, NDOC will distribute 5,000 tests to medical staff and launch a campaign to conduct widespread testing of staff and offenders throughout Nevada, Kelley said.

Nine more employees in the surrounding complex have also previously tested positive, according to Nevada Department of Health and Human Services records.

High Desert is considered a medium- to maximum-security prison, and has a capacity of over 4,100 inmates, according to the website prisonpro.com.

DHHS and Nevada State Public Health Laboratory officials worked on the testing program and designed it to help prevent asymptomatic transmission of the virus. NSPHL will provide specimen testing for NDOC facilities and has the ability to test about 500 specimens daily, Kelley said.

“Our goal is to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19 through rigorous testing and the implementation of deliberate and pro-active protocols,” according to a statement from Charles Daniels, NDOC Director. “I am proud of the partnership we have with Nevada’s lab and health department in addressing this issue to protect the health of everyone at NDOC.”

Travel and visitation restrictions remain in place at all facilities.

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