MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – The Minnesota Department of Corrections is moving the state’s prisoner intake operations form the St. Cloud prison where the number of COVID-19 cases have spiked.
The intake function will move to the Lino Lakes Correctional Facility, north of the metro area. They will remain there “for the foreseeable future” to allow the St. Cloud facility to stabilize its number of cases, Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell said.
Currently, St. Cloud prison has a population of 584 people; 20% of whom have tested positive for the virus. As of Tuesday, 122 people had been diagnosed with COVID-19, a big jump from just two cases in late June. According to the Department of Corrections, 3,576 tests have been administered in St. Cloud, the majority of which have come back negative. Five tests are still pending.
All intake for men had previously moved to St. Cloud to help manage the potential spread of COVID-19. Now, according to Nick Kimball, Communications Director with the Minnesota Department of Corrections, the increase in cases is similar to what the Faribault prison saw in June. The facility saw a quick spike over a short period of time, which then leveled off.
However, two inmates died in the Faribault facility in late June after testing positive for COVID-19.
The design of older prisons like St. Cloud, which has bars on cells instead of solid doors, make it easier for the virus to spread, said Kimball. Staff are currently isolating those who have tested positive.
To minimize the spread of the disease, living units are not intermingling, and additional handwashing stations have been installed throughout. Barrier masks have been provided to staff and the incarcerated men, and are required to be worn when moving around the facility.
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