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191 inmates test positive for COVID at Alabama prison

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Nearly 200 inmates tested positive for COVID-19 at a state prison after officials implemented mass testing in the wake of an outbreak at the facility.

The Alabama Department of Corrections said in a news release that all Elmore Correctional Facility inmates not currently exhibiting symptoms were tested last week. Out of the 960 asymptomatic inmates, 191 tested positive for COVID-19. Elmore is a medium-security prison that houses about 1,000 inmates.

The prison system said the testing was done as a precautionary measure in response to a recent increase in cases at the prison.

Since the pandemic began, 1,901 total cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among inmates, and 224 of those remain active. Sixty-six inmates and three staff members have died, according to numbers provided by the prison system.

The Alabama prison system suspended visitation during the pandemic and has not said when it will return.

Alabama has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly contagious delta variant and the state’s low vaccination rate. Case and hospitalization numbers are quickly approaching what they were at the winter peak of the pandemic.

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 was 2,723 on Tuesday, a figure that is nearing the previous peak of 3,087 patients on Jan. 12.

There are now more patients needing intensive care than there are intensive care beds in the state.

The state on Tuesday had 11 more patients needing intensive care than the state had intensive care beds, according to Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association. While beds are available in some hospitals, many others are overcapacity and have implemented surge plans and are housing intensive care patients in other areas of the hospital.

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