Lancaster County Prison

Residents neighboring the Lancaster County Prison, which has been a fixture for decades on East King Street in Lancaster, have mixed views on its effect on the area. 

Three inmates of Lancaster County Prison are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 as the result of an outbreak at the facility which began in August.

Joe Shiffer, deputy warden for inmate services, said Thursday that a total of 128 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 1.

“Obviously, all hospitalizations are serious, but these did not rise to the level of any serious interventions for these folks,” he said, “but they are getting the care that they need.”

Shiffer added that most of the inmate cases have been asymptomatic, though a “fair amount” have had respiratory issues.

Additionally, 26 staff members have tested positive since Aug.1 and two are currently off duty as a result. The employee cases have exacerbated an ongoing staffing shortage at the prison, and county officials recently decided to offer recruitment and retention bonuses to combat the crisis.

Inmates who test positive for COVID-19 are being kept in isolation from other inmates, universal mask wearing is required and visitation has been paused, Deputy Warden William Aberts reaffirmed Thursday. Those policies have been in place for several weeks.

Since Jan. 1, 2021, the prison has performed 6,534 COVID-19 tests resulting in 225 positive cases. Additionally, 316 inmates have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The pace of new COVID-19 cases has been rising since July in Lancaster County, which is now averaging more than 200 new cases per day. As of Thursday, there were 96 COVID-19 patients being treated in the county’s three hospitals, according to the state Department of Health.

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