WISCASSET — Two Bridges Regional Jail has denied a York County Jail’s request to board a handful of prisoners due to concerns over a COVID-19 outbreak.

As of Tuesday, 48 inmates at York County Jail and 18 people who work in the building that houses the jail have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Maine Center for Disease Control spokesman Robert Long. There have been another eight confirmed cases and nine probable cases among family members of people who work in the building. Long said the investigation into the outbreak continues.

The outbreak is linked to an Aug. 7 Millinocket-area wedding and reception that was attended by a York County Jail employee, according to the CDC.

Correctional Administrator James Bailey told the Lincoln and Sagadahoc Multi-County Jail Authority last week that he’d received a request from York County Jail to board five or six female inmates who had tested negative for COVID-19.

Bailey said there are many unknowns when it comes to COVID-19 in corrections facilities.

“We decided not to take the female boarders from York County at this time,” Bailey said Tuesday.


The county has a contract with Oxford County to board inmates until the end of December. When there is space, Bailey said Two Bridges welcomes inmates from other counties for a $65 per day fee. He expects to have some new inmate boarders from Penobscot County soon.

The jail hadn’t turned any inmates away prior to York County’s request. Bailey said he believes York County is trying to board some inmates testing negative for COVID-19 to isolate them from the outbreak.

Attempts Tuesday to reach York County Sheriff William King for comment were unsuccessful.

Bailey said it would have been difficult to quarantine the York County inmates, given the number of newly arrived inmates from Sagadahoc and Lincoln counties.

The prospect of facing an outbreak is York County Jail is experiencing is frightening, Bailey said.

“We’re dealing with a very unique population where you can’t just say we’re going to let you go,” he said. “We have a duty to hold them there so yeah, it’s very scary.”

“I worry more about my staff bringing it in,” Bailey added.

Bailey said his facility screens staff, inmates, contractors and everyone who enters the jail for COVID-19 symptoms and checks temperatures. Every new inmate gets a surgical mask and is isolated and tested for COVID-19 before entering the general population with a face covering. Test results are usually back with 48 to 72 hours.

So far there have been no positive cases, Bailey said.

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