Newport prison COVID-19 outbreak growing

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Newport prison COVID-19 outbreak growing

Wed, 03/03/2021 - 11:07am -- tim

March 1 testing returns 108 new positive staff and incarcerated cases at Northern State Correctional Facility

Vermont Business Magazine Vermont Department of Corrections (Vermont DOC) reported Tuesday night that 100 new cases of COVID-19 among incarcerated individuals and eight new staff cases in the outbreak at Northern State Correctional Facility (NSCF) in Newport. The cases were detected in testing conducted March 1.

The outbreak began after one staff member and 21 incarcerated individuals tested positive for the virus. The 22 total cases were detected in testing conducted February 23, 2021. There are currently 127 positive incarcerated cases and ten positive staff cases at the facility.

Contact tracing is underway, and Vermont DOC and Vermont Health Department’s Rapid Response Team are outlining follow-up actions and testing. The entire facility will be tested again on March 4, and has been in full lockdown since receipt of the first positive results on February 25. All other state facilities are in modified lockdown. 

“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,” said Commissioner Jim Baker. “Northern State is now being treated like a hospital. We’re coordinating with our medical contractor, regional hospitals, the State Emergency Operations Center, the Vermont Department of Health, and other partners to ensure we have wraparound services for those in our care. Ensuring the wellbeing of staff and the incarcerated population is our top priority.”

As of Tuesday, a total of 12 staff and 127 incarcerated individuals are positive for the virus throughout Vermont correctional facilities.

Families and friends of incarcerated individuals are encouraged to reach out to the Vermont DOC Office of Constituency Services with questions: https://doc.vermont.gov/information-inmate-families-and-friends. Click here for the direct link to the online Friends and Family portal.

Daily updates on the COVID-19 response in Vermont’s correctional facilities can be found at https://doc.vermont.gov/covid-19-information-page.

ACLU of Vermont issued this statement on the outbreak: The Vermont Department of Corrections has announced another major outbreak of COVID-19, this one in its Newport facility. Despite multiple outbreaks and the obvious, heightened risk to incarcerated Vermonters, Governor Scott still has not taken executive action to reduce the number of people in our prisons or to prioritize them for vaccination.

ACLU of Vermont Executive Director James Lyall: “Vermont prisons have experienced multiple, major outbreaks of COVID-19, all of which were predictable and preventable.  For too long, the governor has ignored the fact that incarcerated Vermonters are at heightened risk of harm. That approach is dangerous and inhumane.

"Vermonters overwhelmingly support smarter, more humane prison policies.  Vermonters value compassion and responsible government.  In neglecting incarcerated Vermonters and their families, Governor Scott has shown neither.

"The people in our prisons are members of our families and our communities, and none of them were sentenced to suffer or die in a pandemic. It’s past time for Governor Scott to start following the science and showing some basic humanity by prioritizing the vaccination and safe release of incarcerated Vermonters.”

Source: Waterbury, Vt., March 2, 2021 – Vermont Department of Corrections. www.acluvt.org 3.3.2021