The inmate population at the Lansing Correctional Facility is growing as inmates from a Wichita work release center are being moved to LCF for quarantine and isolation.
The transfer of the inmates to LCF comes after a cluster of COVID-19 cases has developed at the Kansas Department of Corrections’ Wichita Work Release Facility.
As of Thursday afternoon, 38 inmates at the Wichita facility had tested positive for the coronavirus. But 34 of them are asymptomatic, which means they have shown no signs of illness, according to a KDOC website.
According to Rebecca Witte, public information officer for the Kansas Department of Corrections, there were a total of about 100 male inmates Thursday at the Wichita facility. And they were being moved Thursday to LCF to be quarantined or isolated depending on their test results.
Witte said in an email there is a potential that the Wichita inmates who have tested negative could still contract the virus because they have been exposed to those who are confirmed to have the virus.
Witte said the Wichita Work Release Facility is not conducive to separating symptomatic inmates from asymptomatic inmates because the facility has an open dormitory layout.
“There’s little social distancing in a prison setting, but even less opportunity in the open dorm style like at WWRF,” Witte said in an email.
This is not the first time inmates from Wichita Work Release Facility have been moved to LCF because of concerns about COVID-19.
In April, more than 100 inmates from a housing unit at the Wichita facility were moved to LCF after one of the residents of the unit tested positive for the virus.
LCF has had its own problems with COVID-19 cases.
As of Thursday afternoon, 750 LCF inmates have tested positive for the virus. Of those, 645 are asymptomatic, according to a KDOC website.
Seventy-six inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered. Three LCF inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.
Eighty-eight employees at LCF also have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 49 have been able to return to work. Two employees who tested positive for COVID-19 died earlier this week.
The Leavenworth County Health Department reported Thursday afternoon that a total of 955 people in the county have tested positive for COVID-19. That number includes LCF inmates as well as 42 cases reported at the Grossman Center halfway house in Leavenworth.
There have been 170 of what the Health Department calls community cases of COVID-19 in the county. Of those, 69 are considered active.
Kansas is in the first phase of the governor’s plan for gradually easing restrictions that were put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Some people may have been anticipating the start of phase two on Monday. But Gov. Laura Kelly announced Thursday she had created a new phase for what had previously been a three-phase plan.
A new phase 1.5 will go into effect Monday, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
Under this new phase, mass gatherings will still be limited to 10 people or fewer.
In-person school graduation ceremonies may occur with no more than 10 people in a room at one time as long as social distancing requirements are maintained.
Barbershops, hair salons, nail salons, tanning salons and tattoo parlors can reopen but only for prescheduled appointments or online check-ins.
Fitness centers and health clubs may reopen. But in-person group classes are prohibited. Locker rooms also must be closed except for the use of restroom facilities.
Bars and nightclubs have to remain closed. But these types of businesses that are already operating curbside and carryout services can continue to do so.
Theaters, museums, community centers and public swimming pools also have to remain closed, according to information released by the governor’s office.
Under the governor’s revised plan, the earliest phase two can now go into effect is June 1. The earliest phase three can begin is June 15. The earliest the “phase out” portion of the plan can start is June 29.
A link to the updated plan can be found at covid.ks.gov