The number of inmate cases of COVID-19 at the Middleton Jail and House of Correction has dropped from a recent high of 137 to 15 active cases.
Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger said the sudden increase in cases that began Sept. 22, resulted in testing of every inmate, employee and vendor. Nearly 1,700 tests were performed between Oct. 3 and Oct. 6. More than 72% of those testing positive showed no virus symptoms while the remainder experienced only mild symptoms. There were no inmate hospitalizations.
“We used testing as an investigatory tool to identify positive cases and isolate those carriers of the virus. Once we identified the positive cases, our healthcare provider WellPath monitored each person daily, provided care and comfort and made the determination of who was medically recovered according to strict state and federal guidelines,” Coppinger said in a statement Thursday. “As a correctional facility, we make no determinations in medical care and we leave those decisions in the very capable hands of WellPath.”
WellPath followed guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and the state Department of Public Health for determining which cases were medically cleared. Those guidelines state that a person is considered clinically recovered 10 days after a positive test, so long as the person has shown no symptoms and is fever-free without fever-reducing medications in the 24 hours prior to the 10th day.
Inmates who tested positive were moved into one housing unit to isolate the spread of the virus. WellPath providers monitored each case and provided daily clear before medically clearing them to return to their housing units.
There were no inmate positive cases found at the Department’s other housing facilities—the Essex Pre-Release and Re-Entry Center in Lawrence and the Women in Transition program in Salisbury.
Visitation remains temporarily suspended at the Middleton Jail and House of Correction.