85 Hampden County Sheriff employees, 29 incarcerated at jails tested positive for COVID-19

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LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) – Dozens of employees of the Hampden County Sheriff’s Office are currently home from work, after testing positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, nearly 30 people incarcerated at the Hampden County Jail in Ludlow are in medical quarantine after testing positive.

Hampden County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Rob Rizzuto told 22News a total of 85 employees of the Sheriff’s Department are currently out with a positive COVID-19 test. Rizzuto added that there are 28 justice-involved individuals (those either serving sentences or being held pre-trial) at the Hampden County Jail who have entered medical quarantine after testing positive. There is also one person in medical quarantine at the Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Facility in Chicopee.

“As we are a representation of the community we serve, we’ve seen our numbers climb over the past couple weeks with more staff testing positive and being sent home as a precaution,” Rizzuto said. “We are testing staff and our justice-involved population daily with rapid PCR tests, the most reliable tests available, and we are taking all the same precautions that safely brought us through previous waves of the pandemic.”

None of the positive COVID-19 cases have resulted in hospitalizations, and Rizzuto said all of the positive cases among those in custody at their facilities have shown either no symptoms, or mild symptoms.

Rizzuto noted that per the order of Sheriff Nick Cocchi, a mask mandate remains in effect at all Sheriff’s Department facilities, and that all Sheriff’s Office staff and contractors are medically screened at the beginning of each shift.

All people who are brought into custody at the facilities first have to go through medical screening and be housed in a “first-step medical quarantine unit” to be tested and observed for COVID symptoms.

More than 74% of Sheriff’s Office staff are currently vaccinated against COVID-19, Rizzuto said, and added that each person in custody is offered a vaccine at intake, and is educated about the benefits of vaccination during their time in custody.

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