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Carlton County has first COVID-19 case at Moose Lake prison

Inmate at correctional facility tests positive for COVID-19, second test pending


March 27, 2020

Carlton County learned of its first confirmed case of COVID-19 Monday, when the Minnesota Department of Corrections announced that an inmate at the Moose Lake Correctional Facility tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus.

According to the Minnesota DOC website, two inmates at the Moose Lake prison have been tested: one was confirmed positive for the disease and the other test result is still pending.

A statement by DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell Monday confirmed that a staff member from Red Wing and the inmate from Moose Lake both tested positive over the weekend. Both individuals are experiencing mild symptoms and do not yet require hospitalization.

The department has followed Minnesota Department of Health guidance for quarantine and use of personal protective equipment.

“We have been working directly with epidemiology staff from the Department of Health for several weeks to plan for the known likelihood of staff and inmate cases of COVID-19,” Schnell said. “We are taking all reasonable steps to minimize the spread with the state’s correctional facilities, and we are implementing methods to protect those most at risk medically.

Schnell said the DOC is working to balance public health concerns inside the prisons with the need to offer prosocial therapeutic, educational, recreational and phone visiting activities.

“As an agency, we continue our preventative measures as part of our effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 within the prisons,” he said. Some of those measures include requiring staff and offenders to practice social distancing even as programming continues, and suspending in-person visiting at all DOC facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other measures by the DOC to limit disease spread include the following:

-New process for intakes

DOC implemented new processes to limit admissions to only certain facilities and has intensified screening, observation, and isolation protocols for new intakes. -Waive medical copays

DOC waived all medical copays in all facilities. The agency is committed to ensuring that individual economic concerns do not limit an inmate’s willingness to seek medical care for flu-like symptoms

-Enhanced handwashing and hand sanitizing procedures

DOC installed additional handwashing stations at the entrance to all facilities. Additional hand sanitizing stations have also been placed at strategic points throughout facilities to minimize cross-contamination between separate living units.

-Provided additional bars of soap DOC distributed extra bars of soap to each facility to ensure a sufficient supply for regular hand washing.

-Symptom screening for all individuals entering facilities All individuals entering DOC facilities are being screened daily for recent travel and symptoms.


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