OLYMPIA — Coyote Ridge Corrections Center has put its medium-security unit on restricted movement because of an outbreak of the new coronavirus.
The means 1,815 inmates of the medium-security unit are in quarantine and not interacting with healthy people because they were potentially exposed to the virus, according to the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC).
As of Thursday, 30 corrections officers and 71 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement by the agency.
An additional 33 individuals have been isolated and kept away from healthy people because they have symptoms consistent with the virus, according to the DOC statement.
Located in Connell, Franklin County, Coyote Ridge has minimum- and medium-security units. The minimum-security unit is not on restricted movement.
DOC Secretary Stephen Sinclair said the restrictions are necessary, “Due to the number of positive cases of COVID-19 and the limited access to emergency medical services and hospital care nearby.”
“The health and safety of Corrections staff, the incarcerated individuals, and the citizens in the community remains our top priority,” Sinclair said in prepared remarks.
As part of the restrictions, DOC is suspending the production of food and textiles at the facility. To feed inmates, the agency is moving food production for Coyote Ridge to Airway Heights Corrections Center and working with outside vendors.
The development comes as Washington’s correctional facilities had been spared major outbreaks seen in jails and prisons elsewhere around the nation.
Earlier in the pandemic, Monroe Correctional Complex experienced a smaller outbreak that stirred fear among prisoners and their families and sparked a lawsuit against the state.
That legal challenge, which sought the release of thousands of prisoners to protect them against any outbreaks, was ultimately rejected by the state Supreme Court.
One corrections staffer at Monroe Correctional Complex died from COVID-19.