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1,000 Hawaii inmates housed at Arizona prison to be tested for COVID-19

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The Hawaii Department of Public Safety has directed CoreCivic, which manages Saguaro Correctional Center, to conduct mass testing of all 1,082 Hawaii inmates incarcerated there.

CoreCivic’s Health Services staff will begin the broad-based testing Thursday, and is expected to be completed in one day.

Public Safety reported today that 57 Hawaii inmates are now in medical isolation at Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., after testing positive for COVID-19.

Seven are hospitalized, four are awaiting test results in medical isolation at the prison, and 741 are in a precautionary 14-day quarantine, Public Safety said in a news release.

The facility also houses inmates from the Kansas Department of Corrections and the Nevada Department of Corrections.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser requested from CoreCivic the total number of COVID-19 cases at Saguaro.

It reported 10 active staff cases and 31 recovered cases today, but declined to provide numbers for the other states’ corrections departments.

The entire Hawaii inmate population at Saguaro has been medically screened and higher risk inmates with ongoing health issues have been identified and moved to separate housing units away from the general population.

Acting Public Safety Director Fred Hyun said in a written statement Monday: “The Warden and I both agreed that expedited testing is necessary to identify hotspots and contain the spread. Saguaro is bringing in nurses from other facilities so they can accomplish testing in one day.

“The facility has its isolation/quarantine plans ready to go once results are received,” he said, adding they have assurances the staff are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 guidelines for correctional facilities.

Saguaro has suspended as of March 18 all inmate in-person visitation. It has also stopped volunteer visits to the facility and non-essential programming.

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