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FDCF has restrictions to fight virus

Inmates at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility are remaining in their cells for most of each day in order to combat the spread of COVID-19, according to the Iowa Department of Corrections.

One inmate, 71-year-old Ray. A. Vanlengen, has died of the disease on Monday at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

The department reported that as of Friday afternoon, 104 inmates have tested positive for the disease.

As of Friday, 1,210 inmates had been tested by teams of Webster County Public Health Department nurses and other employees who went into the prison.

Nine members of the prison’s staff have tested positive, and three of them have recovered.

The prison at 1550 L St. is a medium security institution. In such prisons, inmates are usually out of their cells most of the day, taking classes, attending counseling and working. Many routine chores needed to be done around the prison are completed by inmates.

In a written statement, Cord Overton, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, said part of the strategy for stopping the virus ”is to essentially require the inmates to shelter in their cells for the majority of the day in order to control movement and viral spread around the facility.”

”Staff are doing their best to allow for controlled movement to use showers, the inmate email system, and the phones for every incarcerated person every day, and all inmates are receiving plenty of food and drinks, though we understand some folks would like more, and we try to accomodate requests as best we can,” Overton wrote.

He reported that inmates are getting more than 2,500 calories per day in their meals, with extra desserts provided when possible.

”Long periods of controlled movement are hard on both inmates and staff, and it’s our hope that as soon as we believe we’ve contained the spread of the virus we can restore the facility to a more normal movement status,” he wrote.

Teams from the Webster County Public Health Department went into the prison four times this month to conduct COVID-19 tests. Completed test kits were taken by the Iowa State Patrol to the State Hygienic Lab. Test results were generally received the next day.

”We are proud of the partnership that Webster County Public Health has with the Iowa Department of Corrections and Iowa Department of Public Health to address prison testing needs,” said Kari Prescott, director of the Webster County Public Health Department.

County COVID cases grow

The Webster County Public Health Department reported 343 cases of COVID-19 in the county as of Friday.

That is an increase of 49 new cases since Wednesday.

The age breakdown of postive cases is:

• Children (up to age 18): 18

• Adults (18 to 40): 174

• Middle-aged adults (41 to 60): 97

• Older adults (61 to 80): 48

• Elderly (older than 81): 6

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