Coffee Creek experiences proliferation of COVID-19 cases
Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville recently experienced its largest surge in COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
Currently, according to the Oregon Department of Corrections website, there are 37 active cases in either the women's prison or the male intake facility on the prison's grounds.
Coffee Creek has had 103 positive cases total at the two facilities, most of which have come from the intake side, during the pandemic. The prison also houses many AICs who tested positive at other Oregon prisons.
"There is no way to say for certain what may have caused an uptick in cases at these two facilities — COVID-19 continues to spread throughout our communities and our nation and prisons are not immune. Coffee Creek and the Intake Center are two separate facilities and operations, so it is unlikely there is any direct correlation between the two," Coffee Creek Public Information Officer Mackenzie Kath wrote via email.
Coffee Creek AICs who are symptomatic are sent to a separate unit from the rest of the prison population and isolated in their cells, Kath said.
"Those on medical isolation in their cell are let out to shower and make phone calls daily, separate and at different times than other AICs. The entire unit, including showers and phones, are sanitized before and after they come out of their cells," she said.
Despite the recent uptick, Kath said the facility's capacity has not been stretched.
Coffee Creek provides updates to AICs via newsletters and information boards, and the AICs are separated into small groups during the pandemic, according to Kath.
"All units are treated as a family, they only are around AICs from their same unit. Small groups of each 'family' are allowed out of their cells for dayroom — to shower, use phones, make food, clean their cells, etc. After each dayroom time slot, everything is sanitized," Kath wrote.
One Coffee Creek AIC wrote in a letter to the Spokesman in December about being fearful about new AICs being brought into the facility even though her unit already was on lockdown, adding that the cellmates of those who tested positive had been allowed to remain where they were. She also said AICs aren't given much information about what is going on.
"This place should be held accountable for their negligence and should face consequences for their irresponsible actions," she wrote.
Kath said the prison could not stop the intake of new AICs even during a lockdown and that the cellmate of an AIC who tested positive but is asymptomatic is required to remain in their cell. They also can't require AICs to be tested, she said.
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