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Arkansas inmate tests positive for virus, officials say; deaths in state rise to 27

by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | April 12, 2020 at 10:40 a.m.
This file photo, shows a sign for the Arkansas Department of Correction's Cummins Unit prison in Varner, Ark.

The Arkansas Department of Corrections on Sunday reported its first positive coronavirus diagnosis of an inmate, as the total number of deaths resulting from the virus in the state rose by two, according to officials.

The diagnosed inmate was scheduled for covid-19 testing at the Cummins Unit in Grady on Saturday morning, but was instead transported to an area hospital and diagnosed there, a news release by the agency states. The inmate, whose identity wasn’t released due to patient privacy rules, remained there Sunday morning.

Access to the barracks where the inmate was housed has been restricted, and inmates and exposed staff have been tested, the department said.

According to the release, the department implemented covid-19 screenings across all prisons, community correction centers and administrative locations in mid-March.

The department said it is also distributing masks manufactured by Arkansas Correctional Industries to all inmates, residents and staff, but inmates and staff at the Cummins Unit were issued masks before Saturday’s diagnosis.

As of Friday, 13 employees throughout the department's various divisions have tested positive for the virus and were under quarantine, according to the release.

Additionally, the state Department of Health reported the total number of Arkansas residents confirmed to have died as a result of the coronavirus rose to 27, up two deaths from figures reported on Saturday. A total of 1,277 people have been diagnosed with the virus in Arkansas, a 49-case increase since Saturday, the agency reported Sunday morning.

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