First Iowa prison inmate tests positive for COVID-19

By: - April 18, 2020 2:42 pm

A coronavirus test kit. (Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control)

Iowa’s first case of a prison inmate testing positive for COVID-19 has been confirmed at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville.

The Iowa Department of Corrections said Saturday that the inmate is a new admission to IMCC, and arrived at the facility from Henry County on April 16.

As part of IMCC’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, all new admissions to the facility are kept quarantined for 14 days of observation. While in quarantine, the inmate began displaying symptoms consistent with COVID-19, the DOC said in a press release.

Medical staff tested the inmate for COVID-19, which was resulted in a positive finding. The inmate is now in medical isolation, and state officials say they are performing contact tracing to identify any inmates or staff who may have been exposed since the inmate’s arrival at IMCC.

The inmate is described as an adult, age 18 to 40,  who was sentenced to prison for drug crimes. The inmate is in stable condition, but is being monitored by IMCC’s medical staff around the clock.

The department said it has been preparing for COVID-19 in the prison system for more than a month. Officials declined to say whether it has restricted movement of the inmates at IMCC.

On April 10, the DOC reported that a correctional officer at the Coralville facility had been placed under quarantine after becoming the state’s first prison employee to test positive for the virus.

That staff member first began experiencing symptoms April 8 or 9, according to the department. The worker is an adult between the ages of 18 and 40 and is on paid administrative leave.

The DOC has mandated masks for all prison workers, and made them available to inmates — although inmates are not required to wear them.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing.