One hundred COVID-19 cases have been reported at a Casper drug and alcohol treatment center, the facility confirmed Monday.
The Casper Re-Entry Center, a contractor for the Wyoming Department of Corrections, is run by The GEO Group, a private company that operates correctional facilities around the U.S. and abroad. The facility offers a drug treatment program for Wyoming Department of Corrections inmates who qualify.
As of Monday, 96 residents and four staff members at the facility had tested positive for COVID-19, The GEO Group confirmed via email Monday evening in response to a Star-Tribune inquiry to the facility’s director.
The facility can serve roughly 150 residents in the treatment center, but it’s unclear how many total residents currently reside there.
The company’s email said nine residents and two staff members had completed a 14-day quarantine as of Monday.
A resident who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation told the Star-Tribune the 89 new cases were announced at the reentry center Friday after mass testing at the facility was performed Wednesday. According to the resident, two separate resident managers said there were 89 cases as of Friday.
The resident said inmates at the facility have been quarantined in the same room together, and some residents who test positive for the virus have been moved into rooms where other residents are in the midst of a 14-day quarantine, forcing the already quarantining residents to restart their 14 days.
“We’ve been on quarantine since (Oct.) 25,” the resident said. “We feel like we’re being punished for being sick.”
The resident who spoke with the Star-Tribune said he received a positive result Friday after being tested Wednesday. He said two previous tests — one before Oct. 25, one on Oct. 25 — both came back negative. Although, he added he was not permitted to see official test results, and was only given the result verbally.
A spokesperson for the GEO Group, Monica Hook, did not respond to a question regarding the facility’s quarantine procedures. Hook did provide a statement saying the facility was complying with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on virus mitigation.
It’s unclear exactly when the outbreak began at the treatment center, but the resident who spoke with the Star-Tribune said they were aware of just six cases at the facility prior to the results of the mass tests being revealed Friday.
COVID-19 infections statewide and Natrona County have surged since mid-September. Probable and confirmed active virus cases are nearing a combined 7,000 statewide. A month ago, that number hadn’t yet exceeded 1,500.
Natrona County alone has more than 1,000 presumed or confirmed active cases. More than 270 cases here have been confirmed in the last two days.
A call to a Casper-Natrona County Health Department spokesperson Monday seeking additional information on the outbreak was not immediately returned.
The Wyoming Department of Corrections also declined to comment on the situation at the Casper Re-Entry Facility, deferring the questions to The GEO Group. Paul Martin, deputy administrator of the department’s Transparency Division, told the Star-Tribune the department could not comment for a private company. He did say, however, the department would be notified if there were an outbreak at a facility it contracts with.
Follow health and education reporter Morgan Hughes on Twitter @m0rgan_hughes