York County’s wasn’t finest detention center that didn’t require masks ahead of outbreak, speak finds

Before a COVID-19 outbreak on the York County Prison this summer season, no longer lower than four a entire lot of jails in Maine weren’t requiring inmates and staff to place on face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, per a review by the Maine Division of Corrections.

That outbreakcontaminated nearly half of the inmates and correctional officerson the Alfred detention center. The York County sheriffadvised the Portland Press Heraldthat face coverings weren’t required there as a rule, flouting a key advice from public health consultants.

Following that outbreak, Division of Corrections staffvisited the speak’s 15 jailsto envision their pandemic protocols. The findings were blended. Most jails impact require masks and behavior the screenings for that you just might well per chance well dangle of COVID-19 exposure. However they also had gaps of their screening for staff and their emergency plans in case of an outbreak.

“The MDOC staff observed many certain practices in each and each facility,” spokeswoman Anna Dark wrote in an email. “MDOC staff met with nicely-intentioned and caring staff and inmates who were an authority about and were implementing most effective practices to decrease and prepare COVID-19. Then all but again, because the scheme was as soon as no longer to highlight the certain, largely these certain examples lag unmentioned in the portray.”

The portray offered to the Press Herald doesn’t consist of the division’s findings from its take a look at with to York County, and Dark did indirectly reply to a public recordsdata request for any stories connected to that detention center.

York County is conducting an internal inquiry into whether or no longer the detention center adopted protocol for carrying masks ahead of an outbreak of COVID-19 contaminated bigger than 80 folks. However the countyhas refused to expose any recordsdataabout who is conducting that inquiry, how distinguished this might even price a small or any findings thus a long way. County Manager Greg Zinser did no longer reply to an email Monday afternoon asking for an update.

However the Division of Corrections portray did component its findings on the a entire lot of 14 jails.

The Kennebec County Prison, in particular, required neither inmates nor officers to place on masks.

“The facility was as soon as mandating mask carrying and screening staff, however the sheriff opted to end these efforts in June in opposition to the advice of the detention center administrator,” a division employee wrote in his evaluate. “After my take a look at with, the skill made up our minds to reintroduce these prevention measures.”

Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason disputed that remark. He acknowledged the resolution to unruffled down COVID-19 protocols was as soon as no longer his, however he did toughen it on the time.

“We backed off it a small bit attributable to every thing had long previous down, and COVID was as soon as borderline nonexistent here in (Kennebec County),” Mason acknowledged Monday. “I dangle we’ve done lovely nicely, a small better than a entire lot of counties. When the outbreak in (York County) came about, we ramped issues aid up.”

The sheriff acknowledged he does note the significance of face masks in combating the spread of COVID-19. He acknowledged the staff has been taking precautions to prevent the virus from entering the detention center or spreading internal it.

“We don’t have COVID here,” he acknowledged. “If it does accumulate in, it isn’t attributable to we’re no longer making an are attempting to recollect it out.”

Three a entire lot of jails reported inconsistent insurance policies on masks.

Two Bridges Regional Prison offered masks to inmates and staff, however did no longer require their use till September, after the virus spread by the York County Prison. The Somerset County detention center required masks for staff however no longer for inmates. The Knox County Prison did no longer require masks for inmates, and the Corrections Division employee observed that many staff also did no longer build on them.

“I spoke to 2 prisoners who weren’t carrying masks or practising safe distancing,” a division employee wrote in the review for Knox County Prison. “I requested them if they were required to place on masks and so they each and each acknowledged ‘no.’ I requested them if they felt as though they were being safely safe from the virus and so they each and each acknowledged ‘no’ to that. When requested if they observed staff carrying masks they also acknowledged ‘no.’ ”

The division also reviewed a diversity of a entire lot of COVID-19 protocols, collectively with the screening route of for staff, the requirements for company and the emergency plans in case of an outbreak.

Every detention center with the exception of Kennebec County was as soon as screening staff for that you just might well per chance well dangle of exposure, however many did no longer have each and each query the speak wishes requested. To illustrate, the formula on the Cumberland County Prison involves a temperature take a look at, however no questions on out-of-speak trek. Most jails also required staff to kind a detrimental COVID-19 take a look at if they’d traveled to states that usually are no longer exempt from the governor’s quarantine rule, however five did no longer.

Nine of the 14 jails both quarantined newly arrived inmates for 14 days or tested them for COVID-19 ahead of transferring them to the general inhabitants. The relaxation did no longer.

Practically each and each detention center had gaps in its pandemic conception. To illustrate, many lacked a diversion conception must unruffled they no longer be in a job to honest glean novel inmates, staffing to accommodate inmate health center admissions and a conception to glean extra non-public retaining equipment.

Dark acknowledged all of the jails have made adjustments since the visits by the speak, however she did no longer picture them intimately. Corrections Division staff will return to the jails 60 days after the principle take a look at with, she acknowledged, “for discussion and reflection about responses and adjustments.”

“MDOC and the Maine Sheriffs’ Association (MSA) engaged in about a short conversations in preparation to these visits, specifically to connect norms for the visits,” Dark wrote in an email. “The two agencies agreed that the protocol stories and subsequent conversations might well per chance well be done in the spirit of expert courtesy. It was as soon as conveyed to all staff fervent that no allotment of the take a look at with constituted a formal inspection or an investigation. The scheme of every and each particular particular person MDOC reviewer was as soon as to bring collectively a snapshot for the skill to make use of in figuring out their next route of action.”

Dark did no longer reply to an email asking concerning the division’s enforcement capabilities in the jails. A spokesman for the Maine Heart for Disease Retain a watch on and Prevention also did no longer reply to an email concerning the portray.

Convey Secure. Charlotte Warren, a Hallowell Democrat who co-chairs the Legislature’s Prison Justice and Public Security Committee, acknowledged she is worried by the division’s findings. Warren acknowledged she wishes the Maine CDC to seize a extra energetic feature in the pandemic response in jails and prisons than what she has seen thus a long way. In most cases, the company refers questions on COVID-19 protocols in those facilities to the Maine DOC.

“I dangle that the Maine CDC must unruffled doubtless accumulate attracted to what’s going down at our county jails,” Warren acknowledged.

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