comscore COVID-19 fears at private Arizona prison land 80 Hawaii inmates in quarantine | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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COVID-19 fears at private Arizona prison land 80 Hawaii inmates in quarantine

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2016
                                The Saguaro Correctional Center, a private detention center operated by CoreCivic in Eloy, Ariz., has 1,926 beds, 1,125 of which are occupied by Hawaii prisoners.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2016

    The Saguaro Correctional Center, a private detention center operated by CoreCivic in Eloy, Ariz., has 1,926 beds, 1,125 of which are occupied by Hawaii prisoners.

Some 80 Hawaii prisoners housed at Arizona’s private Saguaro Correctional Center are being monitored for COVID-19 symptoms, including 28 who likely had contact with Nevada inmates who already have tested positive.

The 28 Hawaii inmates will be quarantined and monitored for 14 days, Hawaii’s Department of Public Safety confirmed Friday. Another 47 Hawaii inmates incarcerated in the same housing unit are in quarantine and being monitored for COVID-19 symptoms.

The other five Hawaii inmates were being held in the prison’s medical unit for issues unrelated to COVID-19 monitoring.

As of Friday, 1,125 of Saguaro’s 1,926 beds were occupied by prisoners from Hawaii, followed by 120 from Kansas and 99 from Nevada.

PSD’s announcement that 69 Nevada prisoners infected with COVID-19 may have had contact with Hawaii inmates in the Eloy, Ariz., prison came in response to a Honolulu Star-Advertiser inquiry Friday.

CoreCivic, which runs the private Saguaro Correctional Center, did not respond to multiple requests for comment Friday.

Bulla and Lynette Eastman, who run a Saguaro prison ministry, posted a request for prayers for the Hawaii prisoners on Facebook.

Bulla told the Star-Advertiser that he could not confirm second-hand information that a Hawaii inmate actually had contracted COVID-19.

Toni Schwartz, spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Public Safety, said in a statement that, “There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among any Hawaii inmates housed at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Az. Saguaro’s parent company, CoreCivic, confirms that 69 offenders from Nevada, housed in a separate part of the facility, tested positive for COVID-19. There are a total 80 Hawaii inmates in quarantine. Of the 80, through contact tracing it was determined that 28 Hawaii inmates may have had possible contact with them. As a precautionary measure, the 28 Hawaii inmates were relocated to vacant housing and will be monitored for symptoms for 14 days, to include daily temperature checks.”

Another 47 Hawaii inmates held in the same housing unit — which included inmates from other jurisdictions — are being monitored for symptoms for 14 days, Schartz said.

“No Hawaii inmates are exhibiting symptoms of any infectious respiratory illnesses,” Schwartz said in a statement.

Her statement quoted Nolan Espinda, director of Hawaii’s Department of Public Safety, who said Saguaro officials, “assure us they are proactively taking all necessary precautions to mitigate any potential spread of the virus inside their facility, to include continual, enhanced screening of anyone entering the facility, and monitoring inmates and staff for signs and symptoms due to possible exposure.”

Hawaii inmates take up the majority of Saguaro’s capacity.

Corrections Corporation of America contracts with the Hawaii Department of Public Safety to house adult, male inmates from Hawaii to ease prison over crowding in the islands.

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