Wyoming Department of Corrections Passes New Pandemic Plan
The Wyoming Department of Correction (WDOC) has introduced a new Pandemic Response Plan to account for future outbreaks at their facilities.
The plan includes pandemic management-related activities based on transmission rates in each facility or community in which the WDOC operates.
This step is seen as further easing of operational restrictions imposed by Covid-19 due to the continued declining rates of infection in Wyoming.
Daniel Shannon, the director of the WDOC, said:
"It makes complete sense to base any operational decisions on local transmission rates of the virus," Shannon said. "The introduction of this plan will allow operations in communities and/or facilities with little/low transmission rates to return to and remain under full normal operations while imposing more operational restrictions where community or facility transmission rates are on the increase. This plan allows us the needed flexibility to manage our operations as the risks of infection dictate."
The plans take a tiered approach, with each tier, green, yellow, orange, and red, describing which restrictions are imposed based upon community transmission rates of the virus.
The criteria for the different levels involve transmission rate, defined as what percent of inmates tested positive out of the total population, how many hospital beds are being used across the state for COVID-19, and what community transmission levels are like based on CDC guidelines.
Each level also has its own restrictions, with the red level requiring everyone in the facility to be tested weekly and wear masks, restricting inmate transfers and religious worship, and they will conduct onsite temperature checks.
Paul Martin, the administrator for Support Services at the WDOC, said while he isn't sure, he believes the restrictions increase if there is a high transmission rate or there are a large number of COVID-19 patients in Wyoming hospitals and that the county transmission rate is high.
Martin said the plan, which was created in collaboration with the Department of Health, will help the WDOC properly adjust their restrictions based on the prevalence of COVID-19 in their facilities.
"It's all pretty clearly delineated what actions will happen during each zone. And the criteria will change," Martin said. "We will continue to do our surveillance testing and as we see numbers go up, we will adjust the zone certainly by the percent transmission rate in the facility. We'll go based on continued surveillance which gives us more latitude in a structured way to operate our facilities while still maintaining a safe environment."
The reason for the change is because, as Martin said, the decrease in COVID-19 cases in Wyoming, which have gone from an all-time high of 4,085 new cases on Jan. 18, down to 514 on Feb. 14, and most recently zero new cases on March 21.
At the non-institutional facilities, the WDOC is using CDC guidelines to determine which of the three levels, green, yellow, or red, to operate under.