Corrections commissioner calls Vermont prison outbreak a ‘crisis’

Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 12:00 PM EST
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NEWPORT, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont Department of Corrections Commissioner Jim Baker is calling a COVID outbreak at a state prison a “crisis.”

Some 127 inmates and 10 staffers at the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport have tested positive for COVID-19.

It’s the largest outbreak in Vermont’s prison system

In a press conference Thursday morning, Baker said a corrections officer got tested outside the usual testing protocol for staff, which is every two weeks, because he suspected he was sick. That officer tested positive. He was last in the facility on Feb. 16. Everyone at the prison was tested on Feb. 23.

Baker had a message for the families of the inmates.

“I understand that these are your loved ones that are in our care and I want to assure you that we are doing everything we can and we are razor-focused on containing this outbreak,” Baker said.

The commissioner said they do not know how the virus was transmitted from one building to another, leading to the widespread infection.

None of the inmates are symptomatic.

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