Monday, 21 September 2020 14:45

Nineteen of 36 new COVID cases reported at Morrison Correctional

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ROCKINGHAM — About half of the new COVID-19 cases in Richmond County reported on Monday came from one place — Morrison Correctional Institution in Hoffman.

The Health Department reported 36 new cases, saying that 19 were from one location and including a link to the N.C. Department of Public Safety Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, which shows the prison has had a total of 28 positive cases.

John Bull, a DPS spokesman, confirmed records show “25 of the 425 or so offenders currently have active cases of COVID-19 at Morrison Correctional, including 19 cases for which the positive test results were received within the past two days.”

Of the 397 coronavirus tests performed, records show 369 have been negative.

“All housing units at the prisons are cohorted, kept in groups, to prevent the mixing of offenders in one housing unit from those in other housing units,” Bull said. “These ‘cohorted’ housing units go to chow together, to recreation time together, to pill call together, etc. This is a precautionary virus-mitigation strategy to better prevent the spread of the virus in a prison.”

Since the pandemic, Bull added, 26 staff members at Morrison have tested positive for COVID-19. 

“Of those staff members, 13 have met the CDC and DHHS criteria to be considered presumed recovered from the virus and have returned to work while 13 remain off the job,” Bull said.

He added that staff members are encouraged to be tested for COVID-19.

On Sept. 18, DPS announced that it had given out 300,000 disposable three-ply cloth masks to the staff and offenders at all the prisons, and had ordered another 300,000  washable masks with delivery and distribution expected within the next few weeks.

Bull also outlined the Division of Prisons medical protocol:

“Offenders who test positive are promptly separated from the rest of the offender population and placed in medical isolation to better ensure they didn’t spread the virus. Contact tracing is conducted. The housing units where the COVID-19 positive offenders were housed are placed under medical quarantine for close observation and twice daily temperature checks. Any offender who subsequently shows symptoms of the virus is moved into medical isolation and tested for COVID-19. Each prison has medical protocols in place in the event an offender needs advanced medical care.”

Visitation has been suspended since March 16, with entrance being limited to essential personnel, Bull said.

Last week, DPS announced that limited visitation —  “with significant restrictions due to the pandemic” —  would resume Oct. 1.

Read about all actions taken by DPS here:

DPS stats show there have been 12 inmate deaths related to COVID-19, including one each at Scotland Correctional Institution and Lumberton Correctional Institution.

Albemarle CI in Stanly County and Neuse CI in Goldsboro have had three deaths each. Those two have also had the highest number of positive cases — 316 and 466, respectively.

Morrison doesn’t yet show up on the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services report on ongoing outbreaks at congregate living facilities, which is updated each Tuesday and Thursday.

However, it does show that three staff members of Pruitt Health in Rockingham have tested positive.

An outbreak is considered two or more cases at the same facility.

As for the remaining cases, Health and Human Services Director Dr. Tommy Jarrell says they are all from community spread.

There are currently 186 active cases, with 133 under home isolation and nine hospitalized.

Richmond County has seen a total of 972 cases, with 771 having recovered.

Of those tested, 9,147 have received a negative result.

Before Monday, the Richmond County Health Department had reported 246 cases for the month of September: 49 during the first week; 106 during the second week; and 91 for the third week.

September has had the highest number of cases since the first was reported in early April. Richmond was one of the last 10 of North Carolina’s 100 counties to report a case.

Monday also set a record high for new cases announced in one day. The previous high of 31 was recorded on Sept. 10.


The number of local cases per age group are as follows:

  • 0-18 - 129
  • 19-30 - 166
  • 31-40 - 130
  • 41-50 - 171
  • 50-64 - 208
  • 65-older - 168

The number of cases per ZIP code are as follows:

  • Rockingham - 536 (84 active)
  • Hamlet - 263 (49 active)
  • Ellerbe - 100 (21 active)
  • Hoffman - 57 (29 active)
  • Mount Gilead - 10 (0 active)
  • Marston - 6 (3 active)

(*Note: The Richmond County Health Department now lists the number of active cases per ZIP Code instead of the number of recoveries.)

DHHS reports that half of the state’s 100 counties that have now experienced more than 1,000 total cases: Alamance, Brunswick, Burke, Buncombe, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Catawba, Craven, Franklin, Chatham, Cleveland, Columbus, Cumberland, Davidson, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Gaston, Granville, Guilford, Harnett, Henderson, Hoke, Iredell, Johnston, Lee, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Onlsow, Orange, Pitt, Randolph, Rowan, Robeson, Rockingham, Rutherford, Sampson, Stanly, Surry, Union, Vance, Wake, Wayne, Wilkes and Wilson.

In addition to Richmond, Halifax, Lenoir, McDowell, Pender, Scotland and Vance counties have had more than 800 cases.

Madison (90) remains the only county with fewer than 100 cases.

The total numbers (including recoveries) for surrounding counties are as follows:

  • Mecklenburg -27,586 (the only other county to top 10,000 is Wake with 16,943)
  • Union - 4,581
  • Stanly - 1,814
  • Montgomery - 1,026
  • Anson - 553
  • Moore - 1,548 (95 active)
  • Hoke - 1,068
  • Scotland - 962
  • Robeson - 4,252

All numbers are from DHHS except Moore, which are from the local health department, as there has been a discrepancy with the state. 

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is reporting 1,186 total cases in Chesterfield County and 898 in Marlboro County.