Below is a press release from the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office:
BILLERICA, MA — The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office (MSO) recently announced two (2) recently admitted incarcerated individuals have tested positive for COVID-19, while 166 incarcerated individuals at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction have now received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The two positive cases are the first among 200 incarcerated individuals tested in 18 weeks, with the last positive having been reported on September 29. Three (3) other individuals tested at the same time this week were negative.
Both individuals who tested positive had entered the facility and were placed in a precautionary quarantine in keeping with MSO protocols. The two men – who have now been placed in medical isolation – were tested Monday in accordance with a MSO protocol in which individuals are tested on the seventh day following their admittance. Both protocols were implemented with guidance from public health and infectious diseases professionals.
“The fact we were able to identify these two cases before the individuals entered the general population is further evidence that our approach and the protocols we have in place have been effective,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian. “Over the past 11 months, we have implemented a medically driven approach to our COVID-19 planning and response.”
As a result of this week’s positive results, additional precautionary testing will be conducted among other individuals in that unit. Out of an abundance of caution, movement in the unit has been modified.
The 166 vaccinations announced today include all incarcerated individuals who initially indicated they wished to receive them since the MSO began vaccinating incarcerated individuals on January 21. In addition, 363 members of the MSO have received their first doses of the vaccine. The Commonwealth’s COVID-19 vaccination plan identified those living and working in congregate settings – including jails – as a priority group within Phase One.
In an ongoing effort to increase vaccine participation among incarcerated individuals the MSO has taken – and is continuing to take – numerous steps including:
- Surveying the incarcerated population.
- Produced video Q&As with Tufts Medical Center infectious diseases physician Dr. Alysse Wurcel.
- Hosted Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions for incarcerated individuals to ask questions regarding the vaccine with Dr. Wurcel and Dr. Kathryn Stephenson (Harvard University).
- Posted signage around the facility regarding vaccinations.
- Made internal medical staff available to answer questions and provide information about the vaccine.
- Asking newly incarcerated individuals upon admittance to the facility if they wish to receive the vaccine.
- Following up with all incarcerated individuals who decline the vaccine.
In addition to these steps, the MSO has also undertaken numerous mitigation efforts to date including:
- Offering free, voluntary testing for MSO staff members.
- Requiring staff working inside the facility to wear masks for the duration of their shifts.
- Requiring incarcerated individuals residing in cells to wear masks them when outside their cells. Those individuals residing in dorm settings must wear a mask at all times.
- Issuing incarcerated individuals a new mask each week.
- 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 and maintaining social distance.
To learn more about the MSO’s ongoing COVID-19 response, please visit middlesexsheriff.org/covid19.
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