Twenty-nine cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at the Federal Correctional Institute (FCi) in Forrest City.
During a Tuesday afternoon press briefing, Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) Secretary Dr. Nathaniel Smith provided an update on the coronavirus outbreak at the federal facility, saying that the number of cases had increased since he announced the cases on Sunday, April 5. The 29 total cases represent a sharp increase from the initial 14 cases reported two days ago.
Of that total, 24 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 and five staff members have tested positive at the Forrest City facility.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons website does not appear to be updated yet. As of Tuesday evening, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons website only lists 22 confirmed cases. These cases include 15 inmates and two staff members in the FCI Forrest City Low facility, and three inmates and two staff members in the FCI Forrest City Medium facility. Nationwide, there have been 241 federal inmates and 73 U.S. Bureau of Prison staff members who have tested positive for the virus, according to the BOP site.
According to Smith, a Centers for Disease Control team is arriving in the area on Tuesday evening with plans, and he plans to meet with the team tomorrow. The CDC team is expected to begin testing inmates and staff members and initiating containment efforts.
“They will be proceeding to Forrest City to assist the prison in their containment efforts and also to help us ensure that an outbreak there doesn’t spill over into the surrounding community,” Smith said.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ website, there are 1,146 total inmates at FCI Forrest City Medium and 2,109 total inmates at FIC Forrest City Low. Neither Smith nor Gov. Asa Hutchinson specified where the infected inmates were housed or where the infected staff worked.