WINDHAM — As the COVID-19 outbreak at the Maine Correctional Center continues to grow, town officials say they are monitoring the situation but must defer to the state agencies that run the facility.

Since Department of Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty announced the first 12 positive cases of COVID-19 among inmates on Oct. 29, the number has grown to over 100 to become the state’s largest single-site outbreak during the pandemic.

“We are certainly concerned any time there is an outbreak in or around town. It is important for us all to be aware and diligent with our precautions,” Fire/Rescue Chief Brent Libby said Tuesday.

Though the facility on 17 Mallison Falls Road is located in town, its administration is state-run and all COVID-19 coordination is done through the Maine Emergency Management Agency and Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Libby said.

Fire/rescue responds to calls from the facility, such as in the case of a fire or a request for an ambulance, but Libby said he is not sure if any COVID-positive inmates have required transfer to local hospitals.

“We’ve been fairly fortunate that the numbers have been fairly low in Windham … But we managed to get ourselves a modest stockpile of personal protective equipment for our responders,” Libby said.

In a Tuesday afternoon press release, Liberty said that 118 inmates and 13 staff had tested positive for the disease for a total of 131 cases, 14 of whom have recovered. He said cases remain contained in two men’s housing units.

“I wasn’t surprised because that’s what we’ve seen nationally,” Liberty told the Portland Press Herald last week.

Once the virus enters the facility, he said, “it’s a challenge to contain. It’s always a challenge to contain a virus in a congregate setting.”

There were 404 inmates at the Maine Correctional Center as of last Tuesday, meaning nearly 30% of the facility’s population has tested positive.

Liberty could not be reached for comment earlier this week.

There are 260 staff members, some of whom work at both the Maine Correctional Center and the Southern Maine Women’s Reentry Center on the same campus. As of Tuesday’s update, no women inmates from the Reentry Center had tested positive.

The DOC reported on Oct. 22 of a positive case among staff and two additional cases on Oct. 27, but it is unclear if they are related to the current outbreak.

Liberty told the Press Herald that the Maine Correctional Center continues to follow public health protocols, including wearing masks when social distancing is not possible.

A second round of universal testing using both rapid antigen and PCR lab tests was completed Friday, Nov. 6.

Since March, 122 inmates at the Maine Correctional Center have tested positive for COVID-19. A man in his 20s incarcerated at the facility who tested positive in May was the first confirmed case in one of the state’s prisons.

The Portland Press Herald contributed to this report.

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