Alaska News

COVID-19 outbreak prompts lockdown at Alaska women’s prison

An Alaska women’s prison is closed to most visitors this week after reporting a COVID-19 outbreak among inmates.

By Tuesday, the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River reported 18 cases of COVID-19 out of its population of nearly 400 inmates, according to Alaska Department of Corrections spokeswoman Betsy Holley.

Those affected are in isolation or quarantine, and regular testing is underway, she said. As of Tuesday, the prison is remaining closed to visitors, although attorney meetings are still allowed, Holley said.

“We also continue to offer the vaccine to those who are still unvaccinated,” she said.

At Hiland, about half of all inmates have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to publicly available data. That number fluctuates with the prison’s transient population.

Ten active cases were also identified at the Anchorage Correctional Complex, and one at the Wildwood Correctional Center in Kenai. Those cases aren’t considered to be part of an active outbreak at the prisons because they involve individuals who were tested at remand and found to be positive at the time of arrest, Holley said.

Since the pandemic first arrived in Alaska in 2020, more than 2,000 inmates have tested positive for the virus; five have died.

Annie Berman

Annie Berman covers health care for the Anchorage Daily News. She's a fellow with Report for America, and is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. A veteran of AmeriCorps and Vista volunteer programs, she's previously reported for Mission Local and KQED in the Bay Area.