The Look in Brief

More teens in state custody test positive for COVID

By: - June 4, 2020 6:00 am
Tennessee Department of Children's Services logo

More teens in state custody have tested positive for coronavirus at a Department of Children’s Services youth detention facility in Fayette County. 

A total of 21 teenage boys have tested positive at the Wilder Youth Development Center in Somerville, Tenn, located about 35 miles from Memphis. The 120-bed facility houses teens, ages 13 to 19, who have been found delinquent by a judge.

Twenty of the boys remain in quarantine, and one has recovered, according to the Department of Children’s Services.

Wilder is one of at least six facilities for kids in state custody that have had youth or staff test positive for COVID-19 in Tennessee. 

At the Memphis Center for Success and Independence, 45 of 48 youth and 11 staff members tested positive. The others are: Compass Intervention Center in Shelby County, Mountain View Academy in Jefferson County, Bill’s Place in Shelby County and Bledsoe Youth Academy. 

Wilder is the only facility operated directly by DCS. The others are privately-run and contract with the state.

Mass testing at Wilder began on May 21, after one youth and two staff members tested positive for the virus. All three were in the same unit. Separately, a staff member who worked in an administration building on the same campus also tested positive.


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Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee.