LIHU’E — The Kaua’i Community Correctional Center was declared clear of active COVID-19 cases on Friday, according to a press release from the state Department of Public Safety.
The release stated that two inmates had recovered from the disease, bringing the number of active cases at the jail to zero. A total of 91 inmates had tested positive at KCCC previously.
“Currently, KCCC is completely clear of COVID-19 cases,” said Toni Schwartz, DPS public-information officer. “All the credit goes to the hard-working, dedicated health-care and facility staff who worked tirelessly long hours, following PSD’s Pandemic Response Plan to medically isolate, quarantine and cohort inmates, and ultimately clear the facilities of the virus.”
The outbreak at the correctional center began on Aug. 10, when 31 positive cases were reported. During the five following weeks, an additional 60 cases were reported at KCCC. All have since recovered, including seven staff members.
The 128-bed facility has conducted 805 COVID-19 tests on inmates throughout the course of the pandemic as of Tuesday. Roughly 11.3% of those tests have come back positive. No deaths due to COVID-19 have been reported at KCCC.
For contrast, inmates at the Saguaro Correctional Center, a privately run facility in Pinal County, Arizona under contract with the state, have tested positive for COVID-19 at a rate of roughly 20%. Those incarcerated at the O‘ahu Community Correctional Center have tested positive at a rate of roughly 6.4%.
KCCC has been operating under strenuous conditions throughout the pandemic, she said. DPS publishes bi-weekly and month’s-end population reports which include the number of incarcerated persons held in each of the state’s jails and prisons. In at least 27 of the last 38 reports which date back to Sep. 30, 2020, KCCC’s inmate population been listed as at or over its operational capacity.
Schwartz said that the now-COVID-19-free KCCC is currently operating at 90.6% of its operational capacity, but acknowledged that overcrowding has been a problem at the facility.
“The overcrowding our facilities have been burdened with for decades, along with the unique challenges posed by the COVID epidemic, equates to facility conditions, including extreme infrastructure limitations and aging, that push the limits of the staff working there and inmates incarcerated there,” Schwartz said.
“The facility and PSD have a mandate to provide for the care and safe custody of inmates, and will do what is necessary to ensure the inmates under our custody are taken care of. It is challenging, but KCCC is addressing all mandatory post requirements and inmate programming as best it can, and working diligently to maintain operations for the safety and security of inmates, staff and the general public,” she said.
According to DPS records, the number of inmates at KCCC has not exceeded the facility’s operational capacity since mid-August.
Kaleb Lay, general assignment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.