More Northwest State Correctional Facility Inmates Test Positive | Off Message

More Northwest State Correctional Facility Inmates Test Positive


  • Michael Letour / CC BY-SA/
  • Northwest State Correctional Facility
Seven more prisoners at Northwest State Correctional Facility have tested positive for the new coronavirus, a setback following weeks of cautious optimism that the outbreak had not spread.

These are the first new cases identified since the initial prison-wide round of testing was conducted on April 8. Forty-five inmates and 17 employees have now tested positive since the outbreak was detected nearly a month ago.

The new cases were acknowledged on Friday, even as officials said 16 of the other infected prisoners have recovered from weeks of medical isolation at a quarantine prison in St. Johnsbury. Three other COVID-19-positive inmates have been released.

"The inmates who tested positive were already in a quarantined unit thanks to the hard work of our contact-tracing team working with the Vermont Department of Health, who determined they may have interacted with a positive inmate from our first round of testing,” Department of Corrections interim Commissioner Jim Baker said in a press release.
Last week, Department of Corrections officials expressed hope that their quick action to isolate and transfer infected residents had contained the outbreak. The COVID-19 virus is believed to have an incubation period of 14 days, and no remaining inmates at Northwest had shown symptoms for at least that long.
The state retested the 155 inmates in recent days, leading to the discovery of seven new cases.

Those seven prisoners were transferred to Northeast Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury for quarantine, Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said during Gov. Phil Scott's press conference on Friday.
Asked if officials still believed the outbreak at Northwest was contained, Smith congratulated the Department of Corrections.

"They have done an amazing job," he said.

Results of 154 employee tests are still pending.

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