Health Care

One more Covid-19 case at Newport prison; bad weather delays other results

Northern State Correctional Facility
The Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport. Photo courtesy Vermont Department of Corrections

Another incarcerated individual at the Newport prison has tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the outbreak total at the state’s largest correctional center to 40.

Meanwhile, weather delays brought on last week by Tropical Storm Ida spoiled tests of staff members at the St. Albans prison. The results didn’t get to a lab in Massachusetts in time and were being redone on Tuesday.

“Due to the weather event that was occurring up and down the coast, there were tests that did not make it in time,” Rachel Feldman, a corrections department spokesperson, said Tuesday. “Tests do have a shelf life. If they don’t get to the lab in a certain amount of time, they are considered spoiled.”

The latest testing at the Northern State Correctional Center in Newport, conducted Thursday, revealed the one additional test for an incarcerated individual, Feldman said.

Newport has been the site of an outbreak in recent weeks that has resulted in 40 Covid-19 cases so far, including 33 among incarcerated individuals and seven among staff. The prison has a capacity of 433 medium-security prisoners.

Feldman said Tuesday that many of the incarcerated individuals who tested positive for Covid-19 have been “medically cleared,” leaving 13 incarcerated people currently positive for the coronavirus. 

“We are heartened by the results, but that doesn’t mean we are letting down our guard,” Feldman said. 

Another round of mass testing at the Newport prison was taking place Tuesday.   

The Newport facility and the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans remain on lockdown, according to Feldman.

Late last week, two incarcerated individuals at the St. Albans prison tested positive for the coronavirus. Additional testing has revealed no new Covid-19 cases among the incarcerated population, Feldman said Tuesday.

The corrections department is still awaiting new test results for staff at the St. Albans facility, according to Feldman.

Across the state’s prison system, according to Feldman, 15 incarcerated individuals and three staff members are Covid-19 positive.

“There are Covid-positive cases in four of the six of our in-state facilities,” Feldman said. The virus-free exceptions are the Northeast Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury and the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington, the state’s only women’s prison.

The corrections department had reported Friday two incarcerated individuals at the St. Albans prison had tested positive and two staff members at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield had tested positive for the coronavirus. 

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Alan J. Keays

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