LUMPKIN, Ga (WRBL) – Seven CoreCivic employees that work at the Stewart County Detention Center have tested positive for COVID-19. According to legal documents obtained by News 3, there are now five detainees who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and 30 more suspected cases within the detainees.
Ryan Gustin, Public Affairs manager for Core Civic the Nashville-based corrections company that operates Stewart, says the employees are all in regular communication with their healthcare providers for medical guidance. “Notification was made to other employees or contractors who may have been in contact with the individuals who tested positive. We have directed those employees who are known to have had direct contact with these individuals to self-quarantine at home for 14 days, as recommended by the CDC,” Gustin said in a statement to News 3.
This comes just one day after the company learned that three additional employees tested positive on April 9. One of those employees worked in the facility on April 4 and 5, in a housing unit that was under cohort quarantine at that time, according to legal documents.
Gustin says in a statement to News 3 that each employee is quarantining for the 14-day isolation period recommended by the CDC.
Marty Rosebluth, an immigration attorney in Lumpkin, Georgia has clients at the Stewart. He says his clients told him that word had spread through the facility that hundreds of detainees would be released due to the coronavirus.
“Which wasn’t true,” Rosenbluth said. He says clients told him that detainees then began banging on walls and doors demanding to be released causing guards to take action.
Alyssa Arelquin says her husband, a detainee, witnessed the incident.
“Supposedly, they threw gas inside of units and another inmate got a hold of an outside door, a door that goes out to the yard, and they all went outside to the yard because they couldn’t breathe,” Arlequin stated.
On Thursday around 9 a.m., Gustin says facility staff at the Stewart Detention Center “quelled a protest that was initiated by a group of detainees at the facility.” Gustin says the detainees blocked the pod door, covered the windows and refused to return to their beds in protest of their cohort status.
Eventually, staff was able to successfully restore order.
“CoreCivic leadership and facility staff worked closely with our government partner, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), throughout the protest,” Gustin said.
News 3 is working to learn how the sanitation procedures being taken at the Center.