Wyoming Sees COVID-19 Outbreak at Correctional Facility
On Oct. 18, the Wyoming Department of Corrections (WDOC) reported a COVID-19 outbreak of 116 cases at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington, the most so far during the pandemic.
Paul Martin, deputy administrator of the transparency division for the WDOC, said the number of inmates at the Torrington facility rests at around 615, while there are around 350 staff.
Among those who tested positive, Martin said 64.9% were vaccinated, and not as many required hospitalization because of the vaccine.
A majority of the cases at WDOC, 109, were among inmates, with a fairly consistent vaccination rate of 58%, in spite of the intake and outtake of inmates, while the remaining seven were among staff, with a vaccination rate of 38%.
While that is the official vaccination rate among staff, Martin said that that only counts staff who got vaccinated through the prison medical provider, and that he believes their staff vaccination rate is much higher, but can't say for sure.
Martin said that the WDOC facilities all practice guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, from requiring masking in facilities, to encouraging vaccination among inmates and staff, and is not sure what exactly caused the most recent outbreak.
"Our practices have not changed, as the virus moves throughout the community, of course our staff works in the community, and inmates get exposed. Vaccination are offered to them, as you can see over half of them, almost 60% of them are vaccinated, nothing's really changed."
While the number at Torrington is the largest they've seen, relative to its size, the WDOC has seen more cases in the past, such as at the Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp in New Castle, holding around 250 inmates, had 60 cases among inmates, and the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins had 80 cases.
In spite of these various outbreaks, Martin has pointed to the low death that WDOC has seen due to COVID-19, three inmates during the course of the pandemic, as a sign of success.