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COVID-19 outbreak growing at Shawnee Correctional Center
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COVID-19 outbreak growing at Shawnee Correctional Center

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VIENNA — Corrections officials are contending with a COVID-19 outbreak at Shawnee Correctional Center in Vienna.

Illinois Department of Corrections’ COVID-19 dashboard indicates that 58 offenders and 26 employees have tested positive for the disease, and eight offenders and 21 employees have since recovered.

The outbreak among offenders was first detected on Saturday “and cases began increasing after that date,” according to IDOC spokeswoman Lindsey Hess.

According to Hess, Shawnee Correctional Center officials activated their Incident Command Center, which utilizes FEMA’s National Incident Command System model to set and achieve aggressive objectives to respond to COVID-19.

“If an offender develops any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 they are assumed to be at high risk for the disease, and pursuant to CDC and IDPH guidelines, these individuals are isolated and tested,” Hess said. “To manage outbreaks, the Department utilizes point prevalence testing in asymptomatic and potentially exposed offenders. Additionally, exposed asymptomatic offenders are quarantined and monitored for symptoms.”

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Additionally, Hess said all staff are closely monitored to ensure their health and safety. Employees are screened upon arrival to the correctional facility, which includes a temperature check, and provided personal protective equipment.

The facility also has appointed a safety officer whose responsibility is quality assurance of proper PPE use, deep cleaning routines, temperature checks and screening measures, Hess said.

“Our practices are modified based on new information and technology,” she said. “We continue to review the latest scientific evidence and remain in close contact with correctional agencies across the nation to identify best practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities."

Shawnee Correctional Center is a medium-security, adult male facility with a population of about 1,500. The nearly 35% increase in COVID-19 cases in Johnson County over the past week is largely attributable to the outbreak at the prison. Southern Seven Health Department reported 217 confirmed COVID-19 cases for the county as of Monday, of which 100 were active. That was up from 161 confirmed cases on Sept. 22. 

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Shawnee is one of several state prisons with active COVID-19 outbreaks. Others include East Moline Correctional Center, where 317 inmates have contracted the disease, of which 164 have recovered; Robinson Correctional Center, where 260 inmates have tested positive, and 99 have recovered; and Taylorville Correctional Center, where 85 inmates tested positive and four have recovered.

molly.parker@thesouthern.com

618-351-5079

On Twitter: @MollyParkerSI ​

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