ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A coronavirus outbreak at Alaska’s largest prison has doubled in size since a week ago.
The Goose Creek Correctional Center reported 204 inmates tested positive as of Wednesday. The outbreak was first reported on Nov. 2, when the state Department of Corrections said that 22 inmates and five staff members had tested positive for the virus.
By last week, the number had ballooned to 110.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
The correctional facility typically houses more than 1,000 pretrial and sentenced inmates. The outbreak began in a housing unit and spread to other units, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sarah Gallagher has said that inmates who have tested positive for the coronavirus or those who are showing symptoms are isolated and monitored twice per day by medical staff.
“Staff are required to wear masks in the facility, and inmates are strongly encouraged to do so,” Gallagher said. “Each housing unit continues to operate as a ‘family unit’ in order to minimize the risk of transmission between mods.”
Transfers to and from the prison have been suspended, the Daily News reported.
Across the country, virus outbreaks in prisons have increased in the last few weeks, with at least 182,776 inmates testing positive as of Nov. 10, according to data compiled by the Marshall Project and the Associated Press.
Alaska currently has the sixth lowest number of total cases for inmates in the country.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.