State extends Snake River Correctional Institution’s Tier 4 status through Tuesday

This picture of Snake River Correctional Institution was taken from Stanton Boulevard, where it is located outside Ontario, on Aug. 26, 2020. Overall 11 inmates between the ages of 50 and 85 at SRCI who had tested positive with COVID-19 have died. 


The Tier 4 status keeping Snake River Correctional Institution in a total lockdown — in which visitation and some services are canceled — has been extended by the Oregon Department of Corrections once again. The latest extension is expected to last through Tuesday, according to an email from Amber Campbell.

The last extension was through Feb. 6 and was due to an employee testing positive on Jan. 26. Campbell did not provide information on whether an employee or staff had most recently tested positive this time around. However, according to a tracker online, there have been 10 new cases since then, with nine of those being inmates. The most recent positive tests listed are an employee on Feb. 5 and an inmate on Feb. 8.

After a brief stint of moving to a Tier 3 closure status from Dec. 31 to Jan 13, the largest of the state’s 14 prisons moved back to a Tier 4 status. It had previously been listed under that status since July 3. The status is related to outbreaks of COVID-19 among staff and inmates, and closes the facility to visitation and volunteer-led services, as well as limits inmates’ movement throughout the prison.

According to Oregon Department of Correction plans, while SRCI was in a Tier 3 status, screening protocols continued, though they were less frequent than before, and social distancing or face coverings if that cannot be maintained are required by staff.

Once back in a Tier 4 category, there must be no new cases by the next date in order to further deescalate.

Vaccines have been available at SRCI since the first 70 were administered to staff on Dec. 28. More vaccinations have been given since then and more are on the way.

“To date 164 SRCI employees and 11 SRCI AICs have received the COVID-19 vaccination,” wrote Campbell in an email update. “Tomorrow, Jan. 16, 2021 we will have 400 SRCI [adults in custody] who will receive the vaccination.”

Of the 400 Moderna COVID-19 vaccines received by Oregon Department of Corrections, 70 were administered to employees at Snake River Correctional Institution on Monday.

As before, if no new cases develop between now and Jan. 27, the Tier status will be deescalated once again.

The facility is still closed to visitation, and when that will reopen is up to the Oregon DOC’s Agency Operation Center in Salem.

As of the most recent update available from Oregon DOC on Jan. 26, 704 positive cases have been tied to SRCI, (480 inmates and 224 staff). According to Oregon DOC’s test results timeline, during the month of January, 14 staff and 8 inmates have tested positive for the virus.

Overall 11 inmates between the ages of 50 and 85 at SRCI who had tested positive with COVID-19 have died. Forty-two deaths overall in the state’s facilities have been tied to the virus.

In August of 2020, officials confirmed that video footage existed of staff at SRCI closer than 6 feet to inmates without masks on.

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