Updated: 2:37 PM
The state prison in St. Cloud, Minnesota is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, with the Minnesota Department of Corrections reporting 255 positive cases among people incarcerated there and one person hospitalized.
The St. Cloud Prison typically serves as the admissions facility, where anyone entering the state correctional system is admitted first. However, due to the outbreak, the department has temporarily moved withdrawal processing to Faribault, Minnesota.
“As we’ve seen during the pandemic, spikes in cases in Minnesota’s prison system appear to coincide with spikes in cases in the general community,” said department spokesman Nicholas Kimball.
The St. Cloud Correctional Facility is the only state prison currently experiencing such a surge. The prisons in Red Wing, Minn., and Lino Lakes, Minn., each reported a handful of positive cases; the Stillwater facility also reported one case Friday, while other prisons reported none.
About 60 percent of staff and nearly three-quarters of people incarcerated in St. Cloud are fully vaccinated. Eighty-six percent of people incarcerated have received at least one dose.
Since September, state employees who work on site must be either vaccinated or tested weekly. Corrections have raised concerns about vaccination rates among prison staff, which are lagging behind the general population.
Kimball said the Corrections Department is taking additional steps to contain the outbreak in St. Cloud, including requiring prison staff to wear N95 masks, randomly testing staff and temporarily suspending in-person visits.
Anyone newly admitted to prison will be quarantined for 14 days after arrival, Kimball said.
Staff and people incarcerated in all Minnesota state prisons will be offered booster vaccinations against COVID-19 starting next week, he said.
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