SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — More than 100 inmates at a South Dakota prison have tested positive for the coronavirus this week, the Department of Corrections said Friday, as the state experiences some of the worst transmission rates in the country.
Mass testing at the Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield resulted in 127 positive tests among inmates and 22 inmates testing negative. Since the pandemic began, 149 inmates at the minimum to medium security prison have tested positive, while 103 have tested negative. The prison held 1,022 inmates as of Sept. 30.
The inmates who tested positive have been isolated while inmate transfers to and from the facility were temporarily suspended. Classes, training and work programs were also temporarily suspended.
The South Dakota Department of Health reported 793 new cases Friday as well as three deaths. The new cases pushed the seven-day average of positive results to 657, up from 246 a month ago. Part, but not all, of that rise reflects increased testing, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported. South Dakota reported 6,888 new test results on Friday, the largest total since Oct. 7. The state also reported that 299 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, five fewer than Thursday.
The Corrections Department also said Friday that an additional 11 people imprisoned at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls tested positive, raising the facility's total to 16 inmates infected.
The Argus Leader reported that the spike in Springfield comes as a spike that began in September subsides among inmates at the state's correctional facilities for women in Pierre. Ten active cases remain among the 241 inmates who tested positive.
Inmates at the Mike Durfee State Prison were among those tasked with making masks, face shields and other personal protective equipment for corrections staff and inmates. Inmates were given three face masks each. Early on in the pandemic, inmates were provided with disinfectants and directed to do extra cleaning and hand-washing.