More inmates of Connell prison will be tested for COVID-19, as cases rise

Coyote Ridge

CONNELL, Wash – Weeks into a rise in cases at a prison in Eastern Washington, the Department of Corrections now says it’s testing every medium security inmate at that facility.

Coyote Ridge Corrections Center has the most cases of any prison in the state. As of Wednesday, 110 inmates have tested positive there. 141 inmates have tested positive statewide.

Last week, a Coyote Ridge inmate was first to die in the state of a COVID-19 infection.

43 staff members have tested positive at the prison.

In a memo posted Wednesday, DOC said it began testing employees of the medium security Complex and minimum security unit, as well as inmates in the medium-security unit.

DOC had previously said it would only test inmates who may have been exposed and that staff should be tested by their own doctors.

The testing will be done in partnership with the Benton-Franklin Health Department, the Washington Department of Health and the Washington National Guard.

“Depending on test results, incarcerated individuals may be moved to a different housing assignment within CRCC,” the memo said. “Individuals who test positive will be housed together. Individuals who test negative will be tested a second time and those who receive a double negative test result will be housed together.”

Staff members who test positive will be placed on home isolation immediately.

“We are grateful to our staff and incarcerated population for their ongoing commitment to keeping themselves and each other safe and healthy,” the memo concluded. “We will get through this together.”