News regarding the first positive test case of Covid-19 began circulating weeks before confirmation was provided from the Alaska Department of Corrections. I am not surprised as news spreads faster through the family hotline than any press release could ever be typed up!
Incarcerated loved ones were blowing up the phone lines to share with family members that someone had finally tested positive at Goose Creek Correctional Center, the largest correctional facility in Alaska housing minimum and medium custody inmates, a large portion of the population are un-sentenced individuals. Monday morning my inbox began to fill up with messages from concerned family members regarding the safety of their loved ones at GCCC and their concern that an outbreak of the infectious disease was soon to follow.
As of today, the Department of Corrections has listed only 1 positive case, with 20 tests pending. This after having tested the entire "Hotel" mod where patient zero had been housed. "What about "Gulf" mod I am asked, they were going to chow how with "Hotel" mod regularly until the quarantine began. From what I've learned, several rooms within "Gulf" mod were now on quarantine until testing could be provided for those individuals displaying symptoms. Until the results come back, families will remain on edge, as will those living and working inside the facility.
It's a difficult situation for all involved. Infectious diseases spread like wildfire in prison facilities. Mainly due to the close quarters and shared communal areas, no matter how well they attempt to sanitize, germs will pass quickly from one individual to another. With such a large aging population, many of whom have underlying health issues, this has deadly ramifications.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the danger it also poses to staff and their families as they travel to and from the facility. As essential employees, I have to assume the threat of this illness weighs heavily on their minds as well. To date, we have no confirmed news of any staff members at GCCC testing positive for the virus. It is possible that could change in the weeks ahead.
As the State slowly begins to reopen, our fear is that there will be more positive cases of the virus in facilities across the state. Only time will tell.
For now we wait, because that is all we can do.