BILLERICA, MA — The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office recently announced seven individuals, including six Work Release and Community Work Program participants residing in a minimum security building, physically separated from the facility’s main housing structure, have tested positive for COVID-19. All six minimum security cases are currently suspected to be as a result of community-based contacts outside the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.
The seventh individual entered the facility having previously tested positive in the community.
Each of the individuals remains asymptomatic and all seven have been placed in medical isolation to be monitored. These are the first positive tests involving any incarcerated individuals at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction since mid-May.
“While the incredible efforts of our staff to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 resulted in six straight weeks without a positive test, we were always cognizant the virus could return – most likely as a result of a community contact or through a new arrestee,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian. “With a constant flow of new admittances – nearly 750 since March 1 – it was never a matter of if we’d see more cases, but when – and we have been prepared to respond immediately.”
On Tuesday morning, the MSO received the initial positive result on a COVID test that had proactively been administered to an individual as part of his preparation for potential parole. The individual, who participated in the office’s Work Release program, was immediately placed in medical isolation, per protocol, and all non-essential movement in and out the building was temporarily suspended. In consultation with our infectious diseases expert 28 additional individuals living in the building were tested, with five positive results and 23 negatives.
Individuals participating in Work Release, are eligible to leave the facility to take part in employment activities at community-based jobsites and are monitored by GPS while outside the facility. Those involved in the Community Work Program take part in both onsite and offsite painting, cleanup, beautification and other projects under the direct supervision of a correction officer.
The MSO has notified employers associated with the Work Release program of the results.
“Working with our infectious diseases specialist we will continue to maintain our high level of vigilance and preparation,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “As we have throughout this pandemic, we remain committed to ensuring the health and safety of all those who live in, work at and visit the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.”
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