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Salters Prison reports active COVID-19 cases

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is carefully monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 virus which includes the Federal Correctional Institution Williamsburg (FCI) near Salters. The local prison is reporting 21 inmates and 35 staff cases and 2 deaths. The prison has a total 1,358 inmates at its facility and the Camp. FCI Edgefield is reporting 42 inmates and 22 staff cases and one death. Bennettsville FCI is reporting 38 inmates and 4 staff.

According to a press release issued January 11, 2021, on August 28, 2020, inmate Nelson Del Rio Rodriguez was evaluated by FCI medical staff and on the same day, he was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation and treatment due to a cardiac episode. The following day Rodriguez was placed on a ventilator. He remained at the hospital where he was placed on and off a ventilator from August to January. On January 2, 2021, he tested positive for COVID-19 and on January 6, he was again placed on a ventilator due to his declining health. On January 8, 2021, Rodriguez, who had long-term, pre-existing medical conditions, which the CDC lists as risk factors for developing more severe COVID-19 disease, died.

According to the BOP there are 122,913 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 13,802 in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. There are 3,561 federal inmates and 1,991 BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 41,043 inmates and 3,910 staff have recovered. There have been 202 federal inmate deaths and 3 BOP staff member deaths attributed to COVID-19 disease. Of the inmate deaths, 4 occurred while on home confinement.

The BOP website states, prior to entering the institution, or in Receiving and Discharge: All new intakes to an institution, including voluntary surrenders, BOP-to-BOP transfers, or transfers from outside the BOP system are screened by medical staff for COVID-19 - including a symptom screen, a temperature check, and an approved viral PCR test (either an Abbott ID NOW point-of-care [POC] test or a commercial PCR test) performed on a sample obtained from a nasopharyngeal, mid-turbinate, or anterior nares swab. Inmates who arrive symptomatic and/or test positive will be placed in medical isolation. Inmates who arrive asymptomatic and test negative will be placed in quarantine. If inmates become symptomatic during quarantine, they are re-tested and placed in medical isolation immediately.

If inmates remain asymptomatic, they remain in quarantine for at least 14 days. They are then tested out of quarantine with a commercial PCR test at 14 days or after; if the test is negative, the inmate can be released to the general population. If the test is positive, they are placed in medical isolation immediately.

The BOP states that each individual institution has made plans consistent with their institutional resources (including physical space) and will continuously monitor their visiting plan, and make prompt modifications, as necessary, to effectively manage COVID-19. Such modification may include limiting or postponing visitation, providing visitation by appointment, or other adjustments as appropriate.

All visits will be non-contact and social distancing between inmates and visitors will be enforced, either via the use of plexiglass, or similar barriers, or physical distancing (i.e., 6 feet apart). Inmates in quarantine or isolation will not participate in social visiting. The number of visitors allowed in the visiting room will be based on available space when utilizing social distancing. The frequency and length of visits will be established to ensure all inmates have an opportunity to visit at least twice a month.

Visitors will be symptom screened and temperature checked; visitors who are sick or symptomatic will not be allowed to visit. Both inmates and visitors must wear appropriate face coverings (e.g. no bandanas) at all times and will perform hand hygiene just before and after the visit. Tables, chairs and other high-touch surfaces will be disinfected between visitation groups; all areas, to include lobbies, will be cleaned following the completion of visiting each day.

In addition to screening and testing inmates, temperature checks and COVID-19 screening is being conducted for staff, contractors, and other visitors to its correctional institutions, with those who register a temperature of 100.4° Fahrenheit or higher denied access to the building. As much as possible, staff are being assigned to the same posts and not rotating, as an additional measure to mitigate the spread of the virus.