As COVID-19 case numbers continue rising in Pennsylvania, state prisons are seeing an increase in cases as well.
The Department of corrections says COVID-19 has impacted all of the state’s facilities. Here locally, SCI Somerset and SCI Laurel Highlands are showing some of the highest positive cases among inmates and staff.
The Department of Corrections created a demobilization plan ranging from levels one through five, five being the most restrictive. Currently, SCI Laurel Highlands and SCI Somerset are both on a level two of the plan which allows inmates to congregate in cohorts of 50 people or less including eating meals in dining halls, resuming programs and education classes while social distancing and allowed access to the gym. Some restrictions still in place during level two of the plan is all in-person visitations are still suspended.
The DOC determines what level a facility can operate in depending on the amount of new confirmed positive COVID-19 cases and what county the facility is located in. I asked the Dept. of Corrections what the protocol is for when an inmate or staff member begins presenting symptoms or tests positive.
Currently all facilities in our viewing area are on a level 2 plan except for SCI Smithfield which is currently operating on level four. SCI Smithfield is reported to have 12 positive inmates and 10 positive staff members. Despite SCI Somerset having the third highest number of cases among all state facilities.
With 62 positive inmates and 8 positive staff members. SCI Laurel Highlands is forth on the list with 40 inmates who are actively positive for the virus and 17 staff members.