Second Wisconsin prison worker tests positive for coronavirus

Published: Mar. 23, 2020 at 9:27 AM CDT
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A second Wisconsin correctional employee has tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Department of Corrections.

On March 21, an employee at Columbia Correctional Institute tested positive for COVID-19. The maximum security prison is located in Portage.

The first positive case was confirmed March 18 in an employee at Waupun Correctional Institution.

"Both institutions are maximum security facilities and upon notice of the confirmed positive test, each institution suspended administrative rules to limit movement for the protection of our staff and the adults in our care," reads a statement from the DOC.

The agency says it has taken steps to minimize the risk of exposure in prisons. "Upon confirmation of a positive case, all potentially exposed staff are notified, and all adults in custody directly exposed are quarantined. Any staff members that report symptoms will be directed to quarantine for 14 days," says the DOC.

All admissions to the state prisons and juvenile facilities operated by the DOC are suspended.

Older people and those with underlying health conditions (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease) are considered at high risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The virus is found in droplets from the throat and nose. When someone coughs or sneezes, other people near them can breathe in those droplets. The virus can also spread when someone touches an object with the virus on it. If that person touches their mouth, face, or eyes the virus can make them sick," says the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Emergency signs include pain and pressure in the chest, confusion and bluish lips or face.

DHS recommends taking these steps to help stop the spread of the virus:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating and after going to the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

If you do not have soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Stay home when you are sick.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.