Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice reports almost a dozen positive COVID-19 cases

KALB
KALB(KALB)
Published: Mar. 31, 2020 at 12:22 PM CDT
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Members of Congress warn that U.S. prisons can be ticking time bombs when it comes to the spread of COVID-19.

According to a press release sent by the Office of Juvenile Justice, there are almost a dozen positive cases at youth centers across the state of Louisiana.

As of Monday, four youths in the custody of the Office of Juvenile Justice and five employees have all tested positive for COVID-19.

Keep in mind, there are a total of four youth facilities across our state, including the Bridge City Center for Youth, Swanson Center for Youth at Monroe, Swanson Center for Youth at Columbia and the Acadiana Center for Youth in Bunkie.

According to the press release, OJJ has been limiting the number of visitors, and transports are being limited to essential trips only.

Per public health guidelines, anyone entering these facilities is being screened, which includes temperature checks.

Personal protective equipment has also been distributed to the four youth facilities.

As of Monday, Executive Management Adviser Elizabeth Touchet-Morgan told us that educational staff is no longer reporting to the facilities, and distance learning is taking place now.

We reached out to State Representative Daryl Deshotel who says he and other representatives have been lobbying for the youth center to hold online classes for weeks now, and the Office of Juvenile Justice waited too long.

“We’ve made, the senator, myself and Mr. Larvadain, we've all made multiple requests asking that they cease that and basically follow the rest of the state when it comes to education," said Deshotel.

We reached out to the Office of Juvenile Justice to find out how many positive COVID-19 cases there are specifically at the Acadiana Center for Youth in Bunkie. Our calls have not been returned.

However, Bunkie Mayor Bruce Coulon, who was able to get a hold of OJJ, told us there are no positive cases at the youth center in Bunkie.

OJJ is working closely with its medical provider to determine the most appropriate treatment for each youth.

This could lead to further furloughs for medical reasons or early releases as approved by the court system.

Office of Juvenile Justice Statement on COVID-19:
OJJ has been limiting the number of visitors, contractors and deliveries on secure care campuses since the onset of the public health crisis. This also includes limiting transports to essential trips only. Per public health guidelines, anyone entering these facilities is being screened including temperature checks. Quarantine and isolation guidelines were established to accommodate any exposure that has been determined. PPE has been distributed throughout the secure care facilities. As of March 30, 2020, four young people in the custody of the Office of Juvenile Justice have tested positive for COVID-19. Five OJJ employees have also tested positive. The Office of Juvenile Justice is working closely with its medical provider, Wellpath and guidance from the Louisiana Office of Public Health to determine the most appropriate treatment for each youth who may fall ill in our facilities during this crisis. The Office of Juvenile Justice is a receiving agency that is statutorily designated to accept and maintain custody of youth adjudicated in local court systems. During this crisis, we are reviewing all youth in our custody and working with these courts to determine the most proper placement to maintain their physical health, as well as, maintain public safety. These efforts have and can lead to further furloughs for medical reasons or early releases as approved by the court system.
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