An inmate at the York County Jail in Alfred has tested positive for COVID-19, according to Sheriff William L. King.

The man was arrested Wednesday, transported to the jail, and processed. He was asymptomatic at the time. The facility’s screening process did not raise any concerns, but jail protocol requires that inmates be tested for the virus, King said. On Thursday, the individual’s test came back positive.

The case was reported to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and a response plan was initiated. King said that corrections officers who had contact with the inmate are being tested for the virus. Other staff members who request a test will be given that option.

There had been no reported cases of COVID-19 among inmates at Maine county jails until June 29, when the Cumberland County Jail in Portland confirmed that one inmate had tested positive for the virus.

The inmate was arrested on June 27 by Westbrook police on charges of criminal threatening and disorderly conduct, but was sent to the jail’s medical unit after staff learned that the person may have been exposed to the virus.

About 75 out of 325 inmates at the Cumberland County Jail have been tested since then for the coronavirus and there have been no positive results, according to Sheriff Kevin Joyce. Testing supplies have been slow in coming, but the goal is to eventually test everyone at the facility, Joyce said during an interview Wednesday. All of the employees who came into contact with the inmate who tested positive have tested negative.

“It’s not going as fast as I’d really like. As diligent as they (the Maine CDC) are, I  don’t think we’re going to get it all done this week,” Joyce said.

Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce File photo

Joyce said he believes that everyone at the jail should be tested to assure the county’s law enforcement partners, such as the FBI, that the inmate population is being safely monitored and managed.

“I believe that it’s important to do the whole facility even though some people think it’s overkill,” Joyce said. “My goal is to test the whole facility and let the public, including our partners, know that we are clear.”

Universal testing for COVID-19 began late last month at the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland after one of its residents, who was in the process of being released, tested positive June 26. The facility reported that the resident, a 16-year-old girl, was asymptomatic for the duration of her 21-day-long stay at Long Creek.

After the case was publicly confirmed, Maine Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty said the Maine CDC would conduct tests all of its 35 clients and 152 staff at Long Creek – Maine’s only youth detention facility.

Anna Black, a spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Corrections, said in an email Thursday evening that everyone tested at Long Creek had negative results, with the exception being the 16-year-old client.

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