Arizona Department of Corrections to begin the second round of mass COVID-19 testing

Photo By Jenn Vargas/Creative Commons

Contributed Article/Courtesy ADOCRR

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry will soon begin a second round of COVID-19 testing for nearly 38,000 inmates and will make available 4,000 rapid virus tests for staff.

“Since March, more than 85,000 inmate tests have been conducted across our state and contract prison facilities,” said David Shinn, Director of ADCRR.  “The health of our inmates and staff is a top priority and we continue to take proactive steps to mitigate the spread of the virus.” 

The second round of inmate testing will begin in January in collaboration with the Arizona Department of Health Services. The rapid testing for staff will be deployed on an as-needed basis. 

In August 2020, ADCRR became one of only a handful of state correctional agencies in the nation to mass test their entire inmate population.  Mass testing allows the department to identify asymptomatic spread and then isolate and group inmates as needed to mitigate COVID-19 spread in its facilities. Each test is then recorded in the individual inmate’s medical record.  

In addition, ADCRR has obtained from ADHS, 4,000 BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Card Rapid Antigen tests produced by Abbott. The self-contained nasal-swab tests offer results within 15 minutes through a mobile app that will securely show a positive or negative result.

The rapid testing capability will be available to staff members including health care providers for the state’s inmate population, correction officers, professional staff, and contract staff. Training for the medical staff administering the tests will take place this week and is being offered by the Arizona Army National Guard.  The utilization of the rapid tests will begin after the training is complete. 

“We are grateful to Governor Doug Ducey, ADHS, and the Arizona Army National Guard for their tremendous assistance in obtaining the tests and training our health care professionals who provide medical care to our inmates,” said Shinn. “Because of these valuable partnerships, we are also able to deploy the latest developments in rapid testing to our staff members so we can continue to take the appropriate steps in identifying and mitigating the spread of the virus in our facilities.”  

Health care professionals for the Department’s inmate population have also completed the process of becoming certified to administer COVID-19 vaccines and are ready to administer the vaccines during the appropriate phases. 

ADCRR continues to remain vigilant on all fronts with robust COVID-19 management strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at its statewide facilities. PPE and cleaning supplies are in stock, used daily, distributed to the units as needed, and restocked accordingly.  The Department continues to follow CDC and ADHS guidelines for correctional facilities and has done so throughout the pandemic.

COVID-19 data continues to be updated on ADCRR’s dashboard at https://corrections.az.gov/adcrr-covid-19-dashboard.  Please note the data on the dashboard is cumulative back to February.  For the latest regarding ADCRR’s COVID-19 management strategy, please also visit https://corrections.az.gov/covid-19-management-updates.

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