Private event leads to staff outbreak at Drumheller Institution

·2 min read

Several staff members from the Drumheller Institution have tested positive for COVID-19 following a recent private event which has so far led to 38 cases.

Along with contact tracing of the positive staff, inmates were also offered mass asymptomatic testing on Monday, December 27, though as of Monday no positive cases had been identified among the inmate population.

“We take this situation seriously,” a spokesperson from Correctional Service Canada (CSC) tells the Mail. “This was a private event and we are looking into it further, including all other circumstances.”

Federal penitentiary employees are among the federal employees mandated to be fully vaccinated, and some 84.6 per cent of inmates at the Institution are also fully vaccinated.

While in-person visits have been temporarily suspended at the Institution, this is not due to the current staff outbreak but rather due to the rising transmission of COVID-19 within the community; no date is currently available for when in-person visits will resume.

Extensive protocols to protect staff and inmates from the spread of COVID-19 have been implemented by CSC since the start of the pandemic, including increased cleaning and sanitization of high-touch surfaces and ongoing communication about the importance of mask-wearing and social distancing to staff and inmates.

This emerging situation is being closely monitored by CSC.

Local case numbers rose dramatically following the Christmas weekend. On Thursday, December 23, there were a reported 11 active cases in the Town of Drumheller; when the Alberta COVID website was updated on Wednesday, December 29 total active cases climbed to 53--an increase of 42 cases. CSC did not update information on active cases at federal institutions over holidays and their next expected update is Thursday, December 30.

Cases in the surrounding areas also increased, though not as dramatically as in Drumheller. Kneehill County went from 10 active cases on December 23 to 17 active cases on December 29; Starland County increased from six cases to seven; and Wheatland County increased from 15 cases to 20 cases. Omicron cases in the Central Zone, which includes Drumheller and Hanna, rose from 40 on December 23 to 149 on December 29; these variant cases are only broken down by health region and not geographically.

Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail

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