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Vermont Prisons Mandate Masks As Virus Cases Rise

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Northern State Correctional Facility - VERMONT DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
  • Vermont Department of Corrections
  • Northern State Correctional Facility
Updated on August 27, 2021.

Several more people who work or are confined in Vermont prisons have tested positive for COVID-19, leading the Department of Corrections to reimpose a systemwide mask mandate.

The department also suspended outside visits to prisons with active cases, which currently includes five of six state facilities.

A total of nine corrections employees who work at four different facilities have tested positive for COVID-19 recently. And seven inmates currently have confirmed infections: two at Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans, one at Northeast Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury, and four at Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport.

The Newport facility is in full lockdown, while the others have returned to less-restrictive settings following contact tracing.



Everyone at Northern State Correctional Facility is scheduled to be tested again on Friday.

The number of infections in Vermont prisons has jumped in the last two weeks after few cases appeared over the previous few months.

The trend follows the general increase in infections, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 as a wave of the so-called Delta variant of the virus has swept through the state.
Earlier this month, Gov. Phil Scott said corrections employees would be required to get COVID-19 vaccines or face more frequent testing, though details of the arrangement are still being hammered out, spokesperson Rachel Feldman said. More than three-quarters of prison staff and inmates across the system are vaccinated, according to the DOC.

Of seven new cases announced Thursday, two were among people who are not vaccinated — one incarcerated person and and one employee, both at Northern State Correctional Facility, Feldman confirmed.
Scott is facing mounting pressure to reimpose stricter virus prevention measures, such as broader mask mandates. More than 90 health department employees sent a letter to leadership on Thursday calling for such action. Hours later, Scott's office nullified a town-wide mask mandate in Brattleboro that the local selectboard had adopted.