First inmate positive test reported at state prison near Las Vegas

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High Desert State Prison

(Photo: Nevada Department of Corrections)

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A prisoner at High Desert State Prison has tested positive for COVID-19 — the first acknowledged case in the state prison system not involving a corrections employee. The positive test occurred on Monday.

Up to now, reports of staff members testing positive had been reported on the Department of Health and Human Services website, with no information regarding inmates.

Four staff members at the prison have tested positive, along with six additional positive tests at Indian Springs Southern Training Center adjacent to the prison. There is also one positive test at Southern Desert Correctional Springs in the same complex.

According to a news release, the male prisoner arrived on April 22 after he was transported from the Clark County Detention Center.

“He entered HDSP’s intake unit where recently arrived offenders undergo health, mental, and physical screening,” the release says. “The positive test result occurred on May 18 when he was taken to a local hospital for unrelated medical care, as he was asymptomatic for COVID-19 symptoms.”

The prison system and county jails have been criticized by the Nevada ACLU for failing to find a way to keep inmates further apart to avoid the spread of COVID-19 within prisons.

“NDOC’s standard operations for intake requires all offenders be in isolation for a minimum of 20 days,” the new release states. “This timeframe allows medical staff to ensure the health assessment takes into account the generally accepted 14-day incubation period for COVID-19 symptoms to present. As the offender was still in the intake unit, no offenders in HDSP’s general population were exposed.”

High Desert State Prison is just off US95 before you get to Indian Springs, about 44 miles northwest of Las Vegas

“Our top priority is the health of staff and offenders at our facilities,” Charles Daniels, NDOC Director, said in a statement. “Our response is deliberate and in accordance with agency contingency plans and protocols. Now that we have a confirmed offender case, our next goal is mitigating and preventing the spread of the virus.”

At least one prison guard at the Ely State Prison in White Pine County has tested positive. Another positive tests has been reported at the Casa Grande prison facility on Russell Road in Las Vegas, and three positives have been reported among staff at Florence McClure Women’s Correction Center in the northern Las Vegas valley.

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