Northwest State Correctional Facility in Swanton is on full lock down after 3 staff members tested positive for coronavirus. Tuesday, the Department of Corrections said they’re taking steps to contain the spread.
According to the DOC, one inmate is currently in medical isolation awaiting test results. To prevent further spread, each inmate was given 2 cloth masks to protect themselves.
“Our goal is to get those masks washed everyday so each inmate has a clean mask to wear everyday,” said Facilities Executive Alan Cormier.
Four members of the Vermont Department of Corrections have now tested positive for COVID-19, the other is at Northern State in Newport. As officials face the challenge of keeping the virus away from inmates, they say all efforts are on mitigating the risk at Northwest.
“The lock down means that inmates will remain in their cells and that essential services, meals, and medications will be brought to them,” said Rachel Feldman, a spokesperson for the DOC. “Movement will be restricted except for emergency and hygiene purposes.”
Inmates’ temperatures are also taken 3 times a day and staff have theirs taken upon entering the facility. Cormier also says they’ve partnered with local distilleries to deliver hand sanitizer in bulk. He says the lock down will last until April 17th, 2 weeks after the last infected employee was inside Northwest. If the virus reaches inmates, Cormier said they’ll be isolated within.
“At saint Albans and Springfield, we have negative pressure cells we have the capability to hold up to 10 inmates in those negative pressure cells which is the ideal situation,” he said.
If the situation worsens at Northwest, the DOC says it plans to turn Northeast Regional Correctional Facility in St. Johnsbury into a surge hospital.