Louisiana’s prison system this week began “mass testing” at a second state correctional facility.

The results show two-thirds of inmates who contracted COVID-19 between two prison facilities the agency considers “hot spots” tested positive without showing symptoms.

At the all-female prison facilities in St. Gabriel and Jetson, a total of 317 inmates tested positive, including 210 who were asymptomatic. The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections started testing all inmates at the facility where women are housed at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center weeks ago, after noticing it was a hot spot.

Two coronavirus-related inmate deaths stemmed from women’s facility in St. Gabriel.



Nearly every woman in a Louisiana prison dormitory has tested positive for COVID-19, and two-thirds of them showed no symptoms, state figures show.

The women at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel are housed in a dormitory for some of the inmates moved out of the Louisiana Correctional Women’s Institute after floods in 2016, Department of Corrections spokesman Ken Pastorick said last week.

He said 155 women without symptoms were tested after 39 became ill with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

As of Monday, 192 inmates had tested positive, including 66 who had symptoms, according to Department of Correction statistics. The unit has about 195 inmates, though the number fluctuates, Pastorick said Monday.

The chart showed 41 dormitory staffers diagnosed with COVID-19 but did not indicate total staffing. Pastorick said he would check on the total number of staffers and whether all were tested.

Little data exists to compare with Hunt’s figures.

The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office reported Monday that tests for 775 inmates showed 130 had COVID-19 and 621 didn’t, with results not yet in for 24. Another 5 inmates refused to be tested and are quarantined, according to the statement from Sheriff Marlin Gusman and compliance director Darnley Hodge.

They said 70 of 358 sheriff’s office employees have the virus with 35 test results pending.

In Tennessee, the state has ordered tests for all inmates and staff after 53% of the 2,444 inmates at a privately run prison tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Friday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the percentage of infected people who never show symptoms in the general public.

In mid-April, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top expert on the coronavirus, said a “guestimate” is that at least 25% and no more than 50% are never or only mildly ill.