COVID-19 Cases at State Prison Push Forest County To Highest Rate In State

Jan 22, 2021

In this file photo from the state Department of Corrections, the gym at SCI Huntingdon has been converted to an infirmary that houses inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Credit Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

As a COVID-19 outbreak at a state prison in Forest County continues, the sparsely populated county in northwestern Pennsylvania now has the highest rate of coronavirus cases in the state by far. 

As of Thursday, there were 1,245 known cases in Forest County. That’s about 17% of the county’s entire population.

 

It’s also more than double the number in the county just a week before.

A state Department of Corrections spokeswoman said that on Jan. 7, an inmate who developed COVID-like symptoms tested positive. That led to mass testing at the entire facility. 

The spokeswoman said of the 826 active cases, one inmate is requiring a higher level of care and none are hospitalized.

The department website says a total of 867 inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus. 109 staff have tested positive and most of them have recovered.

Correctional facilities are part of Phase 1B in the state’s vaccine rollout plan. The state has said that next phase should begin soon, but the state does not expect to have enough vaccines for everyone who is eligible.