Inmates and staff at Gordon Correctional Center are bucking a trend seen in Douglas County and other correctional facilities around the state.
The facility on County Highway G in Douglas County last had 13 people in its care test positive Oct. 8; it’s been infection-free since Oct. 23.
John Beard, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, said it's hard to say why Gordon is bucking the trend seen in other facilities around the state.
“Most of our institutions are doing the exact same things,” Beard said. “That said some of our institutions are better suited to the spread of the virus than others.”
Among the safety measures adopted are mask policies for staff and people in the care of the prison system, enhanced cleaning protocols and hand sanitizer available in common areas.
“We continue to do a lot of testing,” Beard said. “Our staff tests any PIOC (people in our care) that is symptomatic. We have also made the decision to test all staff members every two weeks.”
The increase in the number of cases around the state and in DOC institutions also prompted the agency to limit intakes from county jails by reimbursing counties to house recently convicted or revoked individuals waiting to be taken in by the state prison system, Beard said. In addition, inter-agency transfers have been suspended to certain facilities when they are experiencing an outbreak.
The design of the facility likely plays a role in spread of the infection.
Waupun, built 150 years ago, has open front doors and everyone is down four long halls, while Lincoln Hills has individual rooms, making it easier to keep people apart, Beard said.
Since the start of the pandemic, Waupun has had 685 positive cases, with 57 currently active, according to DOC data and Lincoln Hills has had a total of nine with only one active case currently.
Gordon, which currently has an operating capacity of 89 men, has had 48 positive tests since the start of the pandemic. The most recent weekly census has 60 people housed at the facility. The facility had its first positive case in mid-July.