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An American flag floats in a gentle breeze above the razor wire at the Idaho State Correctional Center, Thursday, July 18, 2019.

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It’s a development prison officials expected: Two more Idaho inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, writes Idaho Press reporter Tommy Simmons. Idaho Department of Correction Director Josh Tewalt expects “cases will be on the incline for some time to come,” he wrote in a Thursday update on a department webpage dedicated to coronavirus updates. In the update, Tewalt confirmed all three inmates who tested positive were living in the Idaho State Correctional Center’s E block at the time they became symptomatic. The center is part of a six-facility corrections campus near Kuna.

Further, Tewalt wrote, the block is divided into three tiers — and all three people who tested positive were living on the same tier.

“We’re in the process of tracing contacts with the staff members and the incarcerated people who tested positive at ISCC,” Tewalt wrote. “Until that process is complete, we’re going to keep things buttoned down pretty tight. That process also includes looking at people who were recently transferred from ISCC and placing them on medical quarantine until we can rule out exposure or confirm they’re negative for COVID-19 through appropriate testing.”

According to the open letter, 13 department staff members have also tested positive for the illness — and eight of them have tested positive within the last week; five work at the Idaho State Correctional Center. Another 27 employees have been unable to come to work because they’ve had close contact with someone who tested positive.

You can read Simmons' full story here at idahopress.com, or pickup Saturday's edition of the Idaho Press.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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