August 17, 2021 (Lincoln, Neb.) – Steps have been taken to isolate 33 inmates at the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center (DEC), who have recently tested positive for COVID-19. For now, visitation and volunteer activities have been suspended to protect the health of inmates, staff members and others who might enter that facility.
“As we did previously, we have placed those individuals in medical isolation,” said Corrections Director Scott Frakes. “They are being checked regularly by health care staff. Testing is available to anyone who suspects they may have symptoms.”
Frakes said that experience gained during the previous management of the coronavirus has been beneficial.
“Before, when cases increased in the community, we experienced a corresponding increase in our facilities,” noted Frakes. “It is not a surprise that we have an uptick in cases now, especially at DEC which serves as the intake facility for all male inmates who are new admits or returning to us from the community.”
NDCS has asked county jails to hold off on sending new commits if possible, to help stem a potential rise in cases.
“We appreciate that cooperation. Obviously, it is difficult for the jails to hold people for an indefinite length of time. Every little bit helps us as we get the population through this latest outbreak,” said Frakes.
Two other facilities, the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women (NCCW) and Tecumseh State Correctional Institution (TSCI), have COVID-19 cases. Vaccines continue to be offered to all inmates and any staff members who wish to be inoculated against COVID-19.
“The decision to be vaccinated is an individual one. We continue to communicate that offer,” said Dir. Frakes. “We are permitting the wearing of masks on a voluntary basis and are providing bars of soap to inmates as well as putting extra focus on disinfecting spaces where people live and congregate. Being proactive served us well before. We will continue to use those strategies to get us through this latest wave.”