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An inmate and a staff member at the Buena Vista Correctional Complex (BVCC) have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a press release from the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC).

The Department stated it would “be implementing a full prevalence testing program” starting July 8. According to the Chaffee Board of County Commissioners Chair Greg Felt, he received word on Wednesday that the state will be calling in the National Guard to help with the testing of the approximately 1,400 inmates and staff.

Chaffee County Public Health Director Andrea Carlstrom, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and DOC jointly perform all testing on inmates and staff, as well as contact tracing of positive inmates.  Carlstrom said Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) will perform contact tracing on any Chaffee County DOC employee.

The Buena Vista Correctional Complex. Department of Corrections photo.

“Currently, this situation is not considered an outbreak,” said Carlstrom in a release Tuesday, July 7. “However,” she added, “there is a potential that the prevalence testing that will be performed tomorrow and Thursday will result in an increase in Chaffee County’s case count. We feel confident in the DOC and CDPHE’s ability to manage any outbreak that may occur within a DOC facility.”

The news comes on the heels of the announcement July Fourth that four more positive COVID-19 cases had been discovered in Chaffee County.

BVCC inmates who test positive will be counted in Chaffee County’s positive numbers, she stated. Staff who test positive will be counted as positive numbers in the county in which they reside.

According to DOC Public Information Officer Annie Skinner in a release, it has not been determined if the two cases are related, since the corrections officer involved had not been in the facility since June 30.

“As part of the prevalence testing, inmates will be appropriately quarantined and put into cohorts within the facility,“ said Skinner.

Additional information regarding the outcomes of the prevalence testing will be available on the CDOC testing database as results are received and processed. Skinner said the Phase III modified operations at the facility means that “inmates remain in their cells during the quarantine period (length) outside of using the restrooms or showering. All meals and medications are delivered to inmates in their living units.”

Inmates will have access to their normal personal property while quarantined as well as mail, according to the release.