Inmates in high priority on standby, if doses are available
MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Oregon Department of Corrections held its first vaccination clinic Wednesday for staff at the Deer Ridge Correctional Institution near Madras, the same day an Oregon State Penitentiary inmate who tested positive for COVID-19 died at the Salem prison, the 22nd state prison inmate to die with the virus.
The inmate who died at the Salem prison was between 30 and 40 years old, but the state did not release further details, consistent with their information release in previous similar deaths, “to balance the desire for transparency with our legal obligation to protect personal health information.
The state has confirmed nearly 2,200 COVID-19 cases among the prison system’s 13,000 “adults in custody” (inmates) incarcerated at 14 institutions across Oregon. There have been nearly 600 COVID-19 cases among prison staff.
Deer Ridge has had a COVID-19 outbreak in recent weeks and as of Wednesday had 77 active COVID-19 cases among its inmates and a total of 40 self-reported cases among its staff. There have been a total of 246 positive cases at the prison and 1,413 negative test results.
The vaccine will be offered at clinics that began this week to all DOC staff, contractors, Oregon Corrections Enterprises employees, and adults in custody. Prioritization of vaccines will be determined by guidance from the Oregon Health Authority, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the Governor’s Office.
The department received 400 vaccines, less than half of the doses needed to vaccinate all staff in the state’s highest-priority group, Communications Manager Betty Bernt said. Some inmates were on standby lists to be vaccinated if there are extra doses, but Bernt said all were used for staff and the demand exceeded the supply.
The state's weekly COVID-19 active workplace outbreak report, released Wednesday, listed four state prisons at the top of the list, with 192 COVID-19 cases at Deer Ridge between Nov. 13 and Dec. 21, fourth in total count behind Snake River (with 564 cases), Eastern Oregon (526) and the Oregon State Correctional Institution (224 cases).