An administrative building at the Northern State Correctional Facility
COVID-19 has spread throughout Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport, Vermont’s largest prison. Tests have revealed 108 new cases there, the Department of Corrections reported Tuesday night.
Those cases involve 100 inmates or detainees and eight guards. The prison has been in lockdown since late February as the DOC struggles to contain its worst outbreak to date. The new cases mean that more than a third of its inmates have tested positive.
“This is the largest outbreak at a Vermont correctional facility since the start of the pandemic, and it’s all hands on deck for our response,” Corrections Commissioner Jim Baker said in a statement. The prison “is now being treated like a hospital,” with a number of organizations trying to help contain the outbreak, Baker said.
Regional hospitals, emergency operations officials and Department of Health teams are all being called upon to assist the prison’s health care contractor, Baker said. Related contact tracing is under way. The entire facility will be tested again March 4.
Amid an increase in new COVID-19 cases in the state in late January, employees at four of Vermont's six prisons tested positive.
Tests turned up one staff case each at Northern State Correctional Facility, Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington, Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans and Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield.
But on February 23, testing at Northern State showed COVID had spread to 21 inmates.