More than 100 inmates at the Middleton Jail and House of Correction in Massachusetts tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend, officials said Monday night.
The Essex County Sheriff’s Department began mandatory COVID-19 testing of all inmates and employees at the jail on Saturday, Oct. 3 and Sunday, Oct. 4, per the Massachusetts Health Department.
Of the 889 inmate tests conducted over the weekend, 137 came back with positive results. Approximately 72% of the positive tests are considered asymptomatic. Additionally, 31 workers tested positive in the past two weeks, indicating an uptick in employee and vendor cases.
“These are not surprising numbers. We knew that testing everyone in our facilities would result in a higher count,” Sheriff Kevin Coppinger said. “Knowing the true number of cases and being able to identify those people who are positive but asymptomatic is critical to controlling the spread of this highly contagious illness.”
Coppinger released a video message to address the recent increase in COVID-19 cases.
Symptoms shown by employees and inmates have been mild, officials said, and no one has been hospitalized. Inmates have been receiving care onsite from the ECSD’s partner WellPath.
There have been no reported cases at any other ECSD facility. Testing for inmates and employees at the department’s other facilities and offices, including the Essex County Pre-release and Re-entry Center in Lawrence and the Women in Transition program in Salisbury, will take place Tuesday.
The facility was closed to visitors on Sept. 26. Cleaning crews are working 24 hours a day, according to officials, to disinfect high-traffic areas.
All employees and inmates are wearing surgical-grade masks "at all times," officials said. Correctional officers working in patient isolation areas are wearing full personal protective equipment.