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Current COVID surge also affecting Indiana prisons

Jake Harper
Side Effects Public Media
The Indiana Womens Prison in Indianapolis has 100 COVID cases — the second highest number among state prisons, which have seen a recent spike in cases.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Indiana’s prisons. In early January, fewer than 100 incarcerated people had the virus. As of Wednesday, the Indiana Department of Correction reported 571 positive cases.

The two facilities with the most cases are women’s prisons: Rockville Correctional Facility has 106 cases, and the Indiana Women’s Prison in Indianapolis has 100.

IDOC spokeswoman Annie Goeller said in an email that no one with COVID is hospitalized, and the IDOC has not reported any COVID-related deaths in 2022. Since the start of the pandemic, 43 incarcerated individuals have died of COVID-19 in Indiana, and an additional 12 are presumed to have died of the virus.

As of Dec. 30, 2021, the IDOC reported that 71 percent of the incarcerated population is fully vaccinated. That’s higher than the state as a whole – 53 percent of Hoosiers are fully vaccinated, according to the Indiana Department of Health.

While vaccines are not required for incarcerated individuals, Goeller said the IDOC has held several vaccination clinics, and anyone who requests a vaccine can get one from prison medical staff. Incarcerated individuals are also required to wear masks in common areas.

Prison staff are also not required to be vaccinated, but Goeller said they are required to wear masks in facilities. Of the 5,372 IDOC staff, 391 are COVID-positive. That is in addition to the 571 incarcerated individuals with COVID.

“For staff who work inside facilities with a positive test, we require them to not return to work for 10 days, and they must be symptom-free for 24 hours,” Goeller said in an email.

Because of increasing cases, visitation is still restricted in several prisons. But visitation protocols in prisons still vary from facility to facility, depending on COVID cases.

Contact Side Effects reporter Lauren Bavis at Follow on Twitter: @lauren_bavis.

Lauren a reporter and editor based at WFYI in Indianapolis. She maintains Side Effects' website, social media accounts (which you can follow on Facebook and Twitter) and newsletter (which you should sign up to get weekly). Lauren graduated from Towson University and moved to Indiana in 2012, where she began her career as a newspaper reporter. She reported on health and social services for the Bloomington Herald-Times. Her work has been recognized by the Indiana chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists and Associated Press Media Editors, as well as the Hoosier State Press Association.