Undercurrent

Nevada prisons suspend visitation

By: - January 10, 2022 11:33 am

Brian Williams, NDOC’s Deputy Director of Programs, discussing pandemic safety in August. (NDOC photo)

The Nevada Department of Corrections announced Monday it has suspended visitation statewide following hundreds of positive Covid cases among corrections staff and those incarcerated. 

So far in January, 210 staff and 209 inmates tested positive for the virus. 

Following the first cases of Covid in Nevada, the department of corrections halted all in person visits in March 2020, which weren’t resumed until May 2021. 

Even though the department didn’t allow visits, prisons saw a drastic spike in Covid cases from late October 2020 through January. Civil rights and prisoner advocacy groups have argued that lax policies among corrections staff led to outbreaks. 

Following several positive cases among staff and inmates in August 2021, visitations were temporarily suspended at Ely State Prison.

Groups, once again, pointed toward low vaccination rates among employees as the reason behind Covid cases rather than non-contact visits. Prior to coming into the building for visitation, people are tested for Covid and are required to wear masks the entire time. 

At the April and July Board of Prison Commissioners meetings, Gov. Steve Sisolak chastised officials for low numbers. In July, Sisolak called the 41% vaccination rate among staff “atrocious and not acceptable.” 

The Department of Corrections noted in a release Monday that 1,771 of 2,305 employees, or about 77%, are fully vaccinated. Of the 10,001 inmates, it reported 6,767 are vaccinated. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends an additional booster shot to protect against Covid five months after completing the Covid vaccination series. The recommendation comes as the latest omicron variant surges through the population.

Teri Vance, a spokeswoman for the department, said boosters are available and distribution had begun. As of Monday, 646 inmates had received a booster.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle

Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.

MORE FROM AUTHOR