99 individuals at Hampden County Sheriff’s Department test positive for COVID-19

Hampden County

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LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) – Seventy-nine inmates and 20 staff members of the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department have tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a news release sent to 22News from the sheriff’s department, after conducting COVID tests for all staff and individuals in custody across all of its facilities, the department determined there are 79 incarcerated individuals and 20 staff members who are currently COVID-19 positive.

Positive staff members are home quarantining and all positive cases in custody are showing mild or no symptoms, and in medical quarantine with around-the-clock medical care. None of the inmates or staff members have been hospitalized.

Due to the rise in cases in Massachusetts Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi ordered a precautionary round of testing for all staff and every person in the department’s custody.

According to Hampden County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Robert Rizzuto, the department is screening every single staff member before each shift to ensure everyone is healthy and symptom-free. All incoming individuals are also housed in a first step medical quarantine unit for at least 14 days during which time they are observed for COVID symptoms.

Since March, the department has increased disinfecting facilities, transport vehicles, and housing units.

According to Rizzuto, inmates in the department’s care and custody have been provided the following range of free benefits:

  • Daily COVID-19 medical screenings and enhanced 24-hour medical care
  • Two hours of free phone calls each week
  • Three free stamped envelopes per week
  • Free video visiting. The department has conducted 1,100 video visits with the women and over 4,100 for the men to date
  • Increased meal portions
  • Weekly movies

“With the infection rates among asymptomatic people being what they are in the community and across the nation, we wanted to conduct thorough testing to see where we stand,” Sheriff Cocchi said. “As correctional institutions are a reflection of the communities they serve, we expected to find positive cases and we did. We have staff members and inmates without symptoms who are positive. We now work to bring our positive count back to zero as we did with the previous department-wide testing, and we will continue to follow the strict medial protocols that have kept our institutions as safe as possible throughout the pandemic.”

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