NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The Tennessee Department of Correction reported on Tuesday an inmate had died at the South Central Correctional Facility in Clifton because of COVID-19.
CoreCivic, which operates the Clifton facility, said an emergency was called within the medical unit on Saturday around 3:40 p.m.
"Medical staff immediately began performing emergency life-saving measures until EMS arrived at the facility. Following transport to an area medical facility, the inmate was pronounced deceased at approximately 5 p.m.," said Ryan Gustin, Manager, Public Affairs, for CoreCivic, in a statement. "CoreCivic staff immediately notified our partners with the Tennessee Department of Correction and an investigation is underway."
Gustin said the inmate had tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 11. The exact cause of death is pending an official determination.
"We extend our heartfelt sympathy to this individual's loved ones," said Gustin.
The state did a mass testing last Thursday and Friday at the facility after 10 inmates exhibited symptoms of COVID-19.
The Tennessee Department of Correction has also reported deaths at the Lois DeBerry Special Needs Facility and the Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center (formerly Tennessee Prison for Women) in the last 24 hours.
As of Tuesday, 1,144 of the 1,410 inmates at the facility have tested positive for COVID-19. South Central Correctional Facility is operated by CoreCivic.
"The health and safety of the individuals entrusted to our care and our staff is the top priority for CoreCivic," said Amanda Gilchrist, Director, Public Affairs for CoreCivic, in a statement on Monday. "The commitment is shared by our partners at the Tennessee Department of Correction, and we have worked closely together with TDOC and state health officials to respond to this unprecedented situation appropriately, thoroughly and with care for the well-being of those entrusted to us and our communities."
The mass testing was ordered based on observations made by TDOC's medical director in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Health after several inmates and staff at the facility began showing symptoms of COVID-19.
CoreCivic said all of the inmates were asymptomatic at the time of testing. Prior to the mass testing, 10 inmates at the facility exhibited symptoms of COVID-19.
Mass testing of South Central Correctional Facility is underway and results will be available once all tests have been confirmed by the lab. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 66 employees have tested positive. Of that number, 32 have recovered and have been medically cleared to return to work.
"TDOC is continuing to work with facility leadership to ensure the safety of both staff and inmates through compliance to infection control measures and increased education. The Department will continue to monitor the population and staff," TDOC said in a statement.
All inmates who test positive for COVID-19 are are asymptomatic receive daily medical monitoring and health assessments. Those who may become symptomatic but don't require additional care, such as respiratory support, will be treated in place or at local hospitals, depending on their needs. Staff will self-quarantine and are monitored for symptoms and encouraged to contact their healthcare provider.
This is the fourth prison that houses state prisoners that has had a major outbreak.
Bledsoe County Correctional Complex in Pikeville has had 606 inmates recovered and 1 death. Currently 10 are testing positive and 133 tests are pending.
The Northwest Correctional Complex in Lake County had 805 inmates recovered from COVID-19.
Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, also operated by CoreCivic, in Hartsville had 1,379 inmates recover from an earlier outbreak and reported three deaths.
There have also been COVID-19 deaths reported at the Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility (four) in Nashville, Whiteville Correctional Facility (two), also operated by CoreCivic, and Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center (formerly Tennessee Prison for Women) (one) in Nashville.
TDOC continues to practice recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Tennessee Department of Health or more stringent TDOC guidelines. All inmates and staff in state facilities are required to wear masks and adhere to COVID-19 disinfection and safety measures. Future testing will be determined on a facility by facility basis.