Resumption of volunteer, church services in state prisons won’t be happening soon
October 29, 2020 – An officer at the Northeast Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the 10/23 Newport Dispatch.
Records show the officer was last in the facility on October 12. Earlier this month, testing of more than 2000 inmates in and outside Vermont yielded no positive cases.
Vermont Department of Corrections and Vermont Department of Health officials say NECC went on full lockdown on Thursday pending the outcome of contact tracing and mass testing scheduled for October 26.
All intakes are also being diverted from NECC, and contact tracing is underway, initiated with the Rapid Response Team.Other staff identified as having close contact with the positive individual are quarantining and were scheduled to be tested.
Any inmates transferred from NECC will follow quarantine protocol upon arrival at that facility. In total, 23 Vermont DOC staff members have now tested positive for COVID-19.
Nevertheless, DOC is erring on the side of caution regarding all visitation, including volunteer and church-related visitors to the state’s correctional facilities.
“We’re going to be very very cautious about how we open up our facilities to visitation,” Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith told Vermont Daily at the Tuesday press conference. “It’s going to be a while before we are fully open, the way visitation was before. I would expect it’s still going to be a while.”
On March 13, the Department of Corrections suspended in-person visitation at all six correctional facilities for the next two weeks to limit exposure to the virus. Read the Memo. Family and friends can set up video visitation.
Elements of this news story were first published in the 10/23 Newport Dispatch, a daily online newspaper for Orleans County.