VAIDEN – The Mississippi Department of Corrections is reporting that two more inmates at the Carroll-Montgomery Regional Correctional Facility in Vaiden has tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total count to three.
Last week, Warden Brandon Smith confirmed that one state inmate had tested positive for COVID-19 and was in isolation in one of the facilities lock-down cells. He stated that the inmate was exhibiting very mild symptoms of the virus, registering a temperature the first day. Smith said the inmate has since recovered and will conclude his 14-day quarantine today.
This week, three other inmates were taken to the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman to be tested. Two tested positive, and the third tested negative.
“One [inmate who tested positive] stayed [at Parchman] to house there because he had a different custody level,” Smith said. “The other returned last Wednesday and is showing no symptoms. He is in isolation.”
The third inmate had a fever and a cough, but his test came back negative.
“Luckily, so far the symptoms [of the inmates with COVID-19] have been real mild,” Smith said.
One employee of the jail is currently out with the virus, and two others have recovered.
Last week, Smith said he was in communication with the Mississippi Department of Corrections because CMRCF only had seven lock-down cells available to isolate inmates who may test positive for the virus in the future. As a precaution, Smith said CMRCF emptied an entire housing zone of the jail to accommodate any inmates who test positive in the future. The inmates originally assigned to that zone have been transferred to a different facility.
The facility is also practicing strict guidelines set by the Mississippi Department of Corrections to prevent widespread outbreaks of the virus in Mississippi’s jails and prisons. All inmates and employees are required to wear masks.
As for social distancing, Smith said inmates are housed in 60-bed zones, and those beds are three-feet apart, making social distancing difficult. However, in the dining hall, zones are fed individually.
“We don’t intermingle zones with each other,” Smith said.
Smith said due to the facility’s cleaning protocols, he feels the inmates are safer inside the facility than outside.
“We clean constantly,” Smith said. “There is hand sanitizer everywhere and everything is disinfected and wiped down.”
According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, there are currently 20 total cases in Mississippi’s regional, state, and private correctional facilities statewide.
“I think [the number of cases in Mississippi prisons] is so low is because the MDOC stopped visitation and had the staff wearing masks long before [it was required by others],” Smith said. “That is why I think it took so long to get here.”