DPS COVID-19 testing puts an undue burden on officers, staff

May 15, 2020

The Department of Public Safety announced plans Thursday to test employees for COVID-19 using LabCorp tests and FastMed facilities around the state.

Some prisons are as far as 112 miles away from the nearest FastMed testing location. SEANC, State Treasurer Dale Folwell and the State Health Plan had worked out a better solution last month to test every staff member at prisons, juvenile justice facility and probation/parole staff involving mobile units to make the process accessible.

DPS was determined to use their vendor, though, a decision that will make participation less likely.

“We are glad DPS is finally making an effort toward beginning testing,” said SEANC Executive Director Ardis Watkins. “We are truly unclear why they want to limit the testing to locations that might be far from prisons and a hindrance.”

Folwell’s plan could have started two weeks ago. Instead, correctional personnel has spent that time worrying over whether or not they are bringing the virus home to their families.

“This plan is too little, too late, and will create a false sense of comfort,” said Watkins. “At the end of the day, no testing will be effective until the department stops moving inmates from facility to facility.”