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First youth tests positive for COVID-19 in state Juvenile Justice facility

A juvenile housed at Pitt Juvenile Detention Center in Greenville has tested positive for the coronavirus. This is the first positive test for COVID-19 of a juvenile being held in a secure custody facility operated by the state Juvenile Justice section of the Department of Public Safety. 

Earlier this month, test results indicated that all youths housed at that time in state-operated juvenile detention centers and youth development centers were not infected with the coronavirus. Last month, Juvenile Justice officials also began providing COVID-19 testing within 72 hours of entry to all young people coming into juvenile justice facilities.

As part of that testing initiative, results received on Thursday indicate that a newly admitted juvenile who was brought to Pitt Juvenile Detention Center on July 20 tested positive for COVID-19 following testing on July 21. As per policy, this juvenile had been quarantined from the general population pending test results. The juvenile remains asymptomatic and is being monitored by medical staff. The juvenile will be housed in medical isolation until deemed recovered in accordance with CDC guidelines. Out of an abundance of caution, and upon advice of the center’s medical provider, all juveniles at Pitt JDC have been quarantined until they are retested for COVID-19 in the next few days.

“It is important to note this juvenile was infected not at the facility, but in the community before they came to us. Because the Juvenile Justice Section has taken the proactive step of testing all juveniles upon entry into our facilities, we can effectively prevent the spread of the virus to other juveniles we house,” said William Lassiter, deputy secretary for Juvenile Justice. “The health and safety of our staff, and juveniles in our care, is our top priority. Our employees and juveniles are wearing required face coverings, practicing social distancing and following other guidelines to lessen the threat of potentially transmitting the virus within Juvenile Justice facilities.”

It is important to note that social distancing is possible within juvenile detention centers and youth development centers. Juvenile detention centers, and individual living units within youth development centers, are comprised of a common area used for meals and recreation, along with individual rooms for each juvenile.

All Juvenile Justice staff members have been offered COVID-19 testing through an initiative announced in May for free, confidential and convenient testing to all employees of the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice.

Operational changes and actions put in place in the Juvenile Justice section since mid-March due to prevent the spread of COVID-19 can be found online at DPS Actions in Juvenile Justice.