Omaha-area engineer office, jail see coronavirus outbreaks

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The coronavirus outbreak that has seen tens of thousands of confirmed cases in Nebraska is also plaguing jail and prison systems in the state.

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services announced this week that two state prison staffers had tested positive for the virus — one at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution and the other at the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center in Lincoln. Both are isolating at home, according to emails from the state prisons system.

That news came as Douglas County confirmed an expanded outbreak at the Douglas County Jail, where 13 correctional officers and six inmates have tested positive for the virus this week. A total of 46 corrections employees, 59 inmates and two contractors have tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic.

State prison officials also announced the death of an inmate at the Tecumseh prison, but refused to say whether the inmate had been diagnosed with or been tested for COVID-19, citing inmate privacy policy.

The inmate, 71-year-old Ronnie Main, died Aug. 4. He had served 36 years of a 20- to 80-year sentence for two counts of first degree sexual assault out of Cheyenne County.

An email from state prisons spokeswoman Laura Strimple said only that Main died after suffering "a medical emergency."

The state's online virus tracker showed Thursday that nearly 27,500 cases of the virus had been confirmed and 335 people have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic.