On Friday, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees announced a correctional officer in his 50s working at the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre had died after contracting COVID-19. Contributed photo

On Friday, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees announced a correctional officer in his 50s working at the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre had died after contracting COVID-19. Contributed photo

Five COVID cases reported at Red Deer Remand Centre

Other prisons have been much harder hit

Three staff and two inmates at Red Deer Remand Centre have been diagnosed with COVID-19 infections, says Alberta Justice.

An outbreak was declared on Nov. 28 at the facility, which has a staff of 72 overseeing up to 146 inmates and is located next to the Red Deer Provincial Courthouse.

Red Deer Remand has only recorded a handful of cases so far, compared to other facilities, and is not on current outbreak status.

Other prisons have been much harder hit. Calgary Remand Centre reportedly had 262 cases, including 226 inmates, 35 staff and one contractor, as of last Saturday.

Earlier this month, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees announced a correctional officer in his 50s working at the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre had died after contracting COVID-19.

Families of inmates and lawyers who had clients behind bars were critical of the Calgary Remand Centre’s handling of the pandemic and the lack of masks for inmates and the bleated use of masks by prison staff.

The wife of an inmate at Red Deer Remand Centre told the Advocate she was concerned about the lack of protection available to her husband and other inmates.

Guards had access to gloves and masks but prisoners do not, she said. Some already have medical issues that make them more vulnerable.

“They have no masks at all. They’re just wearing their regular inmate clothes,” she said.

“It’s not fair that your guards can come in wearing masks and full PPE gear and the inmates are not given masks at all.”

The woman, who lives in Calgary, said it was stressful to think that her husband could be exposed to the virus and possibly bring it home when he is released.

The woman said she plans to contact Alberta Health Services and prison officials to urge them to make masks readily available to inmates.

Alberta Justice says COVID-19 is taken seriously — at all provincial correctional and remand facilities.

“Precautions and preventative actions include using robust infection prevention protocols for the safety of both provincial inmates and staff,” says Alberta Justice in a statement.

“There is a strong partnership with AHS, as they provide onsite inmate health care services delivery, including the implementation of COVID -19 protocols.”

Many safety protocols have been in place since March.

All incoming inmates are tested for the virus and quarantined for two weeks and then kept in the same cohort to limit the potential for the infection to spread between groups.

Inmates showing any symptoms are medically isolated to prevent possible infection spread.

“Inmates who have tested positive are separated into small groups, as per medical officer of health guidelines. This aids physical distancing and restricts transmission between groups, as per AHS guidelines.”

“Physical distancing, regular hand washing/hand sanitizer and masking when unable to maintain a minimum of two metres with others are ongoing protections.”

“When out of their cells all quarantining inmates have room to maintain physical distancing, and where this is not possible PPE is provided.”

Outside visits have been suspended as have all adult and youth inmate programs, unless approved through senior management and AHS.

Staff are screened for symptoms before each shift and AHS correctional health service staff and corrections manager monitor the facility daily to ensure guidelines and processes are followed, says Alberta Justice.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. announces signage along Alberta border to discourage non-essential travel

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Damien Kurek
MP Damien Kurek reflects on newly-released federal budget

‘Further, they recycle old promises they have consistently failed to deliver on’

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Alberta begins rolling out AstraZeneca COVID vaccine for those aged 40 or older

There are more than 70 pharmacies offering AstraZeneca, including 26 offering walk-in appointments

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

FILE - Dan Smyers, left, and Shay Mooney from the band Dan + Shay perform on NBC's Today show in New York on June 28, 2019. The duo will perform at Sunday's Academy of Country Music Awards. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
Luke Bryan wins top ACM Award, but female acts own the night

Luke Bryan wins top ACM Award, but female acts own the night

In this undated photo provided by John-Paul Hodnett are a row of teeth on the lower jaw of a 300-million-year-old shark species named this week following a nearly complete skeleton of the species in 2013 in New Mexico. Discoverer Hodnett says it was the short, squat teeth that first alerted him to the possibility that the specimen initially dubbed "Godzilla Shark" could be a species distinct from it's ancient cousins, which have longer, more spear-like teeth. The image was taken using angled light techniques that reveal fossil features underneath sediment. (John-Paul Hodnett via AP)
‘Godzilla’ shark discovered in New Mexico gets formal name

The ancient chompers looked less like the spear-like rows of teeth of related species

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

The Rogers logo is photographed in Toronto on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Rogers investigating after wireless customers complain of widespread outage

According to Down Detector, problems are being reported in most major Canadian cities

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Most Read