Below is a press release from the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office:
BILLERICA, MA — Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian has announced the number of COVID-positive individuals being held at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction now stands at zero, as the total custodial population has reached a new record low.
As of today, 562 individuals are in custody, down nearly 30 percent from 788 on March 7.
“I want to commend our entire staff – from the medical professionals and line officers to administrators and support staff – for their incredible work in responding to this pandemic,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “From the outset, their professionalism and meticulous efforts in the face of this international public health challenge have been nothing short of incredible.”
The sheriff also noted the cooperation of individuals in custody who are overwhelmingly complying with measures put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID, including medically recommended limitations placed on movement for the past several weeks and the requirement to wear masks in common areas.
“While I am proud to report we currently have no positive cases, we will remain diligent in our efforts,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “As arrestees are processed into the facility from the community, we expect to see new cases arise, however with our existing protocols and processes we are prepared to handle them.”
To date, four people have either entered the facility COVID-positive or tested positive upon admission.
This is the first time the incarcerated population has had zero positives since the initial case was confirmed on March 27. In total, 41 incarcerated individuals were reported as positive with 40 having recovered and one (1) having been released prior to having completed his medical isolation period.
The decline in population – achieved as a result of collaborative efforts between the MSO, District Attorney Marian Ryan and the judiciary – allowed the office to implement steps to enhance social distancing efforts including the closure of multiple dormitory-style housing units. Decisions by local law enforcement to increase their use of summons for certain offenses also led to a decline in the number of people entering the facility throughout the pandemic.
In addition to these steps, the MSO undertook a number of other steps to mitigate the impact of COVID including:
- Enhanced focus on transparency in communication to employees, incarcerated individuals and the public. We provided routine updates to staff regarding COVID cases and precautions. We also provided regular updates to incarcerated individuals regarding changes and had video messages from Sheriff Koutoujian as well as our infectious diseases specialist. Additionally, in the interest of transparency, we established a dedicated webpage (middlesexsheriff.org/covid19) for the public and families of those incarcerated at the Middlesex jail & House of Correction to find information regarding COVID19’s impact and our response.
- Daily consultation with internal and external medical professionals including an infectious diseases specialist.
- The implementation of new screening procedures for individuals being sent to the facility.
- All staff working inside the facility are required to wear masks for the duration of their shifts. Incarcerated individuals residing in cells must wear them when outside their cells. Those individuals residing in a dorm, must wear a mask at all times.
- Staff members are administered temperature checks at the beginning of their shifts.
- Symptomatic staff are being told to remain at home and contact their primary care physician (PCP). Any symptomatic staff must be cleared by their medical provider and provide documentation to Human Resources before returning to work.
- Vigorously enhanced cleaning of facilities and availability of cleaning products.
- Encouraging individuals inside the facility to continue to follow CDC recommended steps for preventing the spread of the virus. This includes frequently washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Enhanced the use of video and telephonic technology to facilitate court hearings. More than 1,000 hearings have been held since mid-March.
- Designated our Family Resource and Outreach Coordinator as the central point of contact for families with specific questions or concerns about their loved ones. Individuals or families with urgent concerns outside of normal business hours should contact 978-667-1711 ext. 0.
- All incarcerated individuals have access to four free phone calls of up to 20 minutes each, every week.
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