CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A contract healthcare worker at Wyoming's maximum-security prison has tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting corrections officials to accelerate plans to test all inmates and staff.
The worker and five staff members who had extended, direct contact with that person at the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins are self-isolating, state Department of Corrections officials said Thursday.
The person was the second worker in Wyoming's prison system to test positive for the virus. The first was a staffer at the Wyoming Women's Center in Lusk in April who has made a full recovery.
The coronavirus case prompted corrections officials to speed up plans to test all inmates and staff statewide over several weeks starting in August. Testing at the Wyoming State Penitentiary will now begin next week, corrections officials said.
The department returned 87 inmates to Wyoming from a private prison in Mississippi in June. The inmates were tested for coronavirus and no positive cases turned up.
The department quarantines and tests all newly committed inmates and Wyoming remains one of just a couple states with no known coronavirus cases among inmates in its corrections system.
Wyoming on Friday had almost 500 confirmed and suspected active cases of the coronavirus, up more than threefold from early June. Nineteen people were hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest number in almost three months.
Twenty-four people had died.
Worldwide, the number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported numbers because many people haven't been tested and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.