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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

Billings Inmate With COVID-19 Not Immediately Isolated

Montana Women's Prison in Billings, Montana
Montana Women's Prison in Billings, Montana

Prison Miscommunication

A State of Montana spokesperson says she was wrong in telling the Billings Gazette last week that a female inmate who tested positive for the novel coronavirus had been isolated for the entire length of her illness.

Carolynn Bright with the Montana Department of Corrections says the situation had been miscommunicated to her last week.

She told YPR Monday that an asymptomatic inmate at the Montana Women’s Prison in Billings had interacted with other inmates for two days before staff isolated her.

“Our clinical services staff received information after a short period of time that the inmate may have been exposed to COVID, so at that point the inmate was immediately quarantined," Bright said.

She says when the inmate arrived in the latter part of April, the department was allowing prison transfers on a case by case basis and a 14 day quarantine was not required.

In recent weeks, cases of COVID-19 in prisons and jails have soared across the U.S.

Bright says the Montana Department of Corrections does not suspect community spread of the disease at the women’s prison and that this inmate is the only positive case her staff is aware of.

Copyright 2020 Yellowstone Public Radio

Kayla Desroches reports for Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed in the city for college, where she hosted a radio show that featured serialized dramas like the Shadow and Suspense. In her pathway to full employment, she interned at WNYC in New York City and KTOO in Juneau, Alaska. She then spent a few years on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, where she transitioned from reporter to news director before moving to Montana.
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