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First Prison Inmate In Maine Diagnosed With COVID-19

Brian Bechard
Maine Public/file
The exterior of the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, seen in 2016.

The Maine Department of Corrections has confirmed that a prisoner at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham has tested positive for COVID-19.  This is the first positive diagnosis of a Maine prisoner. The man in his 20's began showing symptoms of the disease on May 17, according to a press release, and was moved to an isolation unit. He was tested the following day and the positive result was reported on Tuesday.  

Department of Corrections Commissioner Randy Liberty says 60 staff and 140 prisoners who were working or living in areas where potential exposure could have occurred have been tested, with results expected to come back Wednesday afternoon.

Liberty says other staff and prisoners will also be tested, but he did not say how many. Contact tracing for staff and other prisoners who had contact with the individual is also being undertaken. 

The prisoner was transferred to the Maine Correctional Center in March and has not been hospitalized because, Liberty says, his symptoms are mild.

Over the past few months, the department has stepped-up cleaning measures, suspended visits from family, friends and volunteers and taken steps to reduce the prison population. But prisoner advocates and others say the number of prisoners being released is far too low. 

The department also launched a public COVID-19 dashboard which is regularly updated to provide information on the prisons' populations and testing for COVID-19.

Updated May 20, 2020 at 8:26 a.m. ET.