Prison nearly clear of COVID cases following July outbreak

Following a significant outbreak of COVID-19 at the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center, St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said the situation has dramatically improved.

Last week, Champagne said only five inmates were considered positive and not recovered under CDC guidelines, a significant decline weeks after approximately half of the prison’s population had reportedly tested positive at some point during the outbreak, 196 positive in total.

“(The five positives) are quarantined together,” Champagne said. “None have any significant symptoms.”

Champagne said each of the inmates who previously tested positive have surpassed the 14-day symptom free threshold and are now considered recovered.

He added no federal offenders are currently positive.

“We continue to quarantine and test all new arrestees,” Champagne said.

Champagne, who recently became the parish’s longest tenured sheriff after being sworn in for his seventh term, added last week that one staff member was under quarantine and was not working pending a test result, with no others positive for COVID.

On July 20, the Sheriff’s Office announced 39 inmates tested positive for COVID-19. Champagne said at the time the vast majority of those cases were asymptomatic, while adding the caveat that asymptomatic carriers made it challenging to test and identify others.

The outbreak occurred despite measures taken to restrict potential contraction and spread of the virus, including the use of quarantine dorms for new arrestees and for separating those testing positive from the remainder of the prison’s population and daily deep cleaning of all of its housing dorms.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Cpl. James Grimaldi said all inmates are closely monitored and continually screened for symptoms and that any inmates developing advanced symptoms will be immediately transferred to a public hospital or Department of Corrections medical unit.


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