LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) is taking a proactive and preventive approach to combatting the flu. Director Scott R. Frakes confirms that 45 inmates have become sick in recent weeks at the Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP), the Community Corrections Center-Lincoln (CCC-L), the Community Corrections Center-Omaha (CCC-O), Tecumseh State Correctional Institution (TSCI) and the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center (DEC). Depending on how the virus continues to present, it may be necessary to cancel visits and modify movement within facilities in order to contain the spread.
“Visits will be canceled at the penitentiary on Tuesday, December 24,” stated Dir. Frakes. “At this point, that is the institution with the highest number of cases, both confirmed and suspected.”
Dir. Frakes said members of the executive team, including wardens, will be touching base frequently, to stay on top of the number of emerging cases and determining what actions are to be taken. The agency is increasing its stock of masks for use by members of the incarcerated population and staff. Additionally, inmates have been encouraged to get their flu shots, especially those who fall into certain health categories, making them more susceptible to becoming sick.
“New intakes will be screened for symptoms and members of the medical staff will be providing vaccinations on a regular basis to those who request them,” added Director Frakes. He said administration of antiviral medications may help to limit the severity and length of illness in those who are confirmed to have the flu in its early stages.
“The complicating thing about the flu is that people don’t often realize they are sick, until they have already passed the virus to those around them. That makes it difficult to stay one step ahead of the illness.”
Wardens have also been advised to increase the disinfection of areas used frequently by inmates, staff and visitors and to encourage good sanitation by everyone.
“Obviously, the cancellation of visits would be an inconvenience. But, we recognize the need to protect members of the public as well,” said Dir. Frakes.
Updates concerning the status of visits will be made available on the NDCS website: corrections.nebraska.gov.
“This is going to be a constantly evolving situation. Most of our facilities are not currently affected, but we suspect all of them will be at some point,” noted Dir. Frakes. “We are taking every step we possibly can to reduce the number of illnesses. But, with the flu characterized as ‘widespread’ in Nebraska, we also recognize this could be a significant flu season.”