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An inmate at a state prison in Windham is the first Maine prisoner to test positive for COVID-19, state officials said Tuesday.
Described only as a man in his 20s, the inmate at Maine Correctional Center in Windham began showing symptoms on Sunday, was moved to an isolation unit established for coronavirus patients and tested the next day. Results came back from the state Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory on Tuesday, corrections officials said in a press statement.
The Maine Department of Corrections and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention have begun testing staff and inmates who were working or living in areas where they could have been exposed to the positive case. The state agencies have also begun tracing the contacts of staff and other inmates who had “close contact” with the prisoner, according to the statement.
The individual, who was transferred to the Maine Correctional Center on March 3, “has not yet required hospitalization to date,” according to the statement.
The discovery comes at the same time that two inmates at another prison, Joseph Denbow, 54, and Sean Ragsdale, 56, both at the Mountain View Correctional Facility in Charleston, are suing the Maine Department of Corrections for not granting them furlough or providing them with the means to protect themselves during the pandemic.
The two claim that they are among 925 inmates under Department of Corrections supervision who are particularly at risk if they get sick from the virus.
In response to the first COVID-19 case, corrections officials released a long list of precautions they said they have taken to protect prison inmates and staff over the last several months. They include: enhanced cleaning measures similar to those done during influenza outbreaks; suspending all visits from family, friends, and other non-professional visitors and volunteers to correctional facilities; and suspending home visits, site visits, and field work performed by adult and juvenile probation staff.
The inmate who tested positive for COVID-19 has been assigned to an isolation unit. The prison has locked down his prior prison unit and begun monitoring others in that unit. It has also suspended staff movement between prisons.
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