Alaska News

Almost half of inmates in Goose Creek prison have active coronavirus infections

We're making this important information about the pandemic available without a subscription as a public service. But we depend on reader support to do this work. Please consider joining others in supporting independent journalism in Alaska for just $3.23 a week.

The novel coronavirus continues to sweep through Alaska’s biggest prison.

As of Thursday, 581 inmates at Goose Creek Correctional Center in Point Mackenzie are actively infected with the virus, according to Alaska Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sarah Gallagher.

That number represents 46% of the total population of 1,253 inmates at the medium-security facility, which houses both sentenced inmates and people awaiting trial.

Combined with the 193 people who corrections officials said have recovered from the virus at Goose Creek, well over half the prison population has contracted the coronavirus since the outbreak was first identified Nov. 2.

Earlier this week, DOC announced that it had tested everyone at the facility in an effort to grasp the full scope of the outbreak. Two inmates from the prison have died. As of Thursday, 13 inmates across the state were hospitalized with the virus.

The striking spread of the virus through the prison underscores the difficulty of containing the virus once it gets into a congregate setting like a correctional facility.

An outbreak is also growing at the Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center in Bethel, where 46 people had the virus as of Thursday, according to DOC. The jail, which houses both male and female inmates, has a capacity of 207 people.

“We are pretty concerned about the numbers, especially the hospitalizations given the lack of resources available in general for the community as a whole,” said Angela Hall, founder of a group of families and friends of incarcerated people called Supporting Our Loved Ones Group.

• • •

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.