State Prisons on Lockdown

A press release issued by the Department of Corrections said all state correctional institutions were locked down because of reports of multiple staff members sickened by unknown substances over the past few weeks.

Because of the illnesses in Pennsylvania, all mailrooms at state prisons are closed.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary, John Wetzel, has announced that all Pennsylvania state correctional institutions will be on lockdown until further notice.

Over two dozen inmates and correctional staff were transported to local hospitals in OH and Pennsylvania o Wednesday, after being exposed to a mixture of heroin and fentanyl, according to officials.

"We will do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of our staff", said Wetzel.

The incident began around 9 a.m. when an inmate showed signs of a possible drug overdose, said patrol spokesman Lt. Robert Sellers. Those affected were treated through the administration of naloxone, a drug used to combat overdoses caused by opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, Sellers said.

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Local media reported a synthetic cannabinoid as the substance in question.

In his statement, Wetzel explained that the Opioid Command Center is working with the department as the investigation continues.

On Tuesday, the Department of Corrections said an employee of SCI Greene was hospitalized after possibly being exposed to an unknown substance.

It wasn't immediately known if the exposures in the two states were related. Last week the DOC introduced a multi-point plan including new training in the use of personal protective equipment, increasing inventory of protective gear, purchasing safety disposal units for unknown substances, training in-house emergency response teams for hazardous material response, expanding the use of body scanners, reviewing procedures for inmate mail processing, purchasing K9 Narcan auto injectors for use on drug-sniffing dogs, and expanding the K9 unit.

According to Fox News, the threat resulted in 29 staff members at 10 separate correctional facilities requiring medical treatment.

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