State lab COVID-19 tests of Montana Women's Prison inmates come back negative

Posted at 12:55 PM, Jun 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-12 17:43:51-04

BILLINGS - Officials said Friday that state lab test results were negative for two inmates at Montana Women's Prison who had previously tested presumptive positive for COVID-19.

The Montana Department of Corrections said in a press release that the conflicting test results require additional investigation by the agency, RiverStone Health and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

"We are continuing to take an abundance of caution related to this situation at the prison,” said DOC Director Reginald D. Michael Friday. “Protecting the health and safety of our staff, inmates and the public is the department’s top priority, and we are following the plan we developed for this circumstance.”

The presumptive positive test results were reported Thursday and were discovered as part of sentinel testing efforts conducted at all DOC facilities. Sentinel testing is for individuals who do not demonstrate active symptoms associated with COVID-19, and is intended to help guide response efforts related to the threat of the virus.

Once the presumed positive results were returned, the DOC performed proactive testing of all 194 inmates at the facility and 69 staff members. Notifications related to that testing were being made Friday, according to the press release.

To date, as part of its sentinel testing efforts, the department has tested 616 inmates among all of its facilities and 102 staff members.

The department tracks all results of its COVID-19 testing as they are received on its website — [].