Coronavirus: 517 inmates in Tucson prison test positive

Coronavirus: 517 inmates in Tucson prison test positive
Corrections officials in Arizona said 517 inmates at the Tucson Whetstone Unit have tested positive for the coronavirus. (WIN-Initiative/Neleman/Getty Images)

TUCSON, Ariz. — Nearly half of the inmates at a state prison unit in Tucson have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Arizona Department of Corrections announced Tuesday.

The Whetstone Unit of the state prison, which houses 1,066 inmates, reported that 517 inmates tested positive for COVID-19, according to The Arizona Republic.

The Arizona Department of Corrections said the inmates who tested positive are currently being housed together in separate areas and are receiving “appropriate medical care,” KTVK reported. They will be prohibited from joining the prison’s general population until they have been medically cleared, the television station reported.

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“In addition to measures that are already in place, all inmates at Whetstone will receive meals and all required medication and medical services in their housing units,” the Arizona Department of Corrections said in a news release.

Prison staff members in the isolated area have had access to N95 masks, gowns, gloves and face shields, KNXV reported. On July 2, inmates were provided fabric face coverings for their use, KTVK reported.

The tests were conducted after inmates at the Whetstone Unit held a peaceful walkout Thursday over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus inside the facility, KOLD reported. 

“Keeping our staff, inmates and communities safe continues to be our top priority,” the Arizona Department of Corrections said in a statement.

According to the Arizona Department of Corrections’ COVID-19 dashboard, more than 7,000 inmates in Arizona state prisons have been tested and 890 have tested positive. That number does not include the confirmed cases at the Whetstone unit, KPNX reported.