WEST BURLINGTON TOWNSHIP — An inmate and a medical provider at the Bradford County Correctional Facility have both tested positive for COVID-19, Bradford County officials confirmed Monday afternoon.
According to an announcement from the commissioners’ office, the inmate had traveled to Bradford County from outside of the region when he was arrested and taken to jail on March 17.
“He reported upon arrest that he had previous exposure to COVID-19, but when examined at a local medical facility before being transported to the jail, he did not exhibit any symptoms associated with the virus and therefore was not a candidate for testing,” according to officials.
The inmate was immediately placed in medical isolation with a surgical mask as a precautionary measure, although he continued to show no symptoms. He ended up being tested last Thursday following reports that the officers involved in his arrest had been showing signs of COVID-19 illness. His testing came back positive on Friday. Officials noted that the inmate continues to not show any signs of illness, but remains in medical isolation and will continue to be monitored.
The afflicted medical provider was contracted through PrimeCare Medical, Inc. based in Harrisburg and had met with multiple inmates over the course of several hours Tuesday. Officials said the provider didn’t show any symptoms leading up to or during the visit, followed standard medical precautions, and if they had any contact with inmates, it was minimal.
“Inmates who met with the provider are being examined for symptoms twice daily,” officials said. ”The entire inmate population at BCCF is being checked three times a week for COVID-19 symptoms and our jail staff is checked daily before entering the facility.”
“Medical services at the facility are provided by PrimeCare Medical, Inc., and they have initiated internal policies and staff training on our behalf to ensure that all reasonable and expected steps are in place to prevent the spread of the virus within the facility,” officials continued. “Also, we are working with the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Corrections to ensure the safety of both staff and inmates at the facility.”
Bradford County’s first confirmed case was announced by the Department of Health last Tuesday, with the second case confirmed Thursday and a third on Saturday. The Sayre Area School District confirmed last Friday that one of the positive cases was linked with its school resource officer. Although the school resource officer had helped with the district’s Grab and Go meal program the week before his testing, district officials said the officer hadn’t exhibited any symptoms or been in contact with anyone who was ill before helping with the meal distribution. An investigation from the Department of Health followed and cleared any concerns of possible exposure during the meal event.
It remained unclear which police officers were involved in the arrest of the inmate who tested positive.
In a noontime update Monday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported that confirmed COVID-19 cases across Pennsylvania have surpassed 4,000. There were 4,087 cases — 693 more than reported Sunday — and 11 new deaths, resulting in a total of 49. Most of the COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths in Pennsylvania were among those 65 and older, who represented 19% of cases overall.
There have also been 33,777 patients who have tested negative for COVID-19 to date.
“The continued rise in cases combined with our increasing deaths from COVID-19 reflects the seriousness of this situation,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We need everyone to listen to the orders in place and to stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We know that these prolonged mitigation effects have been difficult for everyone, but it is essential that everyone follows these orders and does not go out unless they absolutely must.”
Among counties that share a border with Bradford County, Susquehanna and Tioga counties remain steady with one confirmed case each, while Lycoming County currently has four cases. In New York state, the most recent update in Tioga County showed seven confirmed cases while Chemung County has 11.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Levine also extended school closures indefinitely on Monday.