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Nevada Corrections launching new initiatives and improved protocols during pandemic

Posted at 2:45 PM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 17:54:40-04

The Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) continues to launch new initiatives and finetune existing protocols to keep the COVID-19 virus out of its facilities.

This includes mandating staff testing for COVID-19 every two weeks and offering additional options for communications between offenders and their families.

NDOC tested all staff earlier in the year, and then starting Aug. 3 modified this procedure to test staff every two weeks at the facility where they work.

Another layer of protection against the virus has been the suspension of in-person visitation, which began March 7 and has been strictly enforced ever since.

To mitigate the impact of this change on offenders and their families, NDOC recently expanded two programs. The first allows eligible offenders up to two free phone calls per week, and the second is a 50% discount of secure messaging which allows the community to send emails (without attachments) to offenders.

These new initiatives and the fine-tuning of existing protocols are working as Nevada continues to have one of the lowest offender positivity rates in the nation.

NDOC tested its entire offender population of 12,282 for COVID-19 during May and June, with only 23 – or .19% of all offenders – testing positive. NDOC is currently conducting a second round of testing and has received results from 4,083 offenders, with three testing positive for a rate of .07%. The majority of the 26 offenders who tested positive during rounds one and two were recent transfers from Nevada detention centers who were diagnosed while in NDOC’s intake units.

One staff member, Digital Telecom Specialist Hector Gutierrez, passed away on August 2 after courageously battling COVID-19 for many weeks.

As of today, 23 have tested negative for the virus and transitioned into NDOC’s general population. NDOC also tested its entire workforce of 2,644 for COVID-19, with 84 – or .9% – of staff testing positive.

So far during its second round, NDOC has tested 1,236 staff and had 15 test positive for a rate of .12%. Of the 99 staff who tested positive, 58 have recovered from the virus and returned to work.