The number of staff and inmates affected by a COVID-19 outbreak at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland is going down, a captain with the sheriff’s office said Saturday.

The outbreak began in mid-September when members of the jail’s medical staff tested positive and as of Wednesday 13 staff members and 10 inmates had COVID-19, said Capt. Donald Goulet of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. On Saturday those numbers were down to 10 staff members and eight inmates, Goulet said. The jail has a total of about 75 staff members right now and averages about 300 inmates a day, he said. About 40 percent of inmates and about 50 percent of the staff are vaccinated, Goulet said.

The outbreak was first reported after Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce told county commissioners about it on Wednesday. All inmates who would have gone to the jail will instead by sent to York County Jail in Alfred or Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.

Joyce also told county commissioners that the jail was dealing with a staffing shortage, and had 67 vacancies to fill. The commissioners voted to declare a state of emergency at the jail so Joyce can move staff members into different positions without county officials’ approval. The staffing shortage has existed for the past couple of years, Goulet said, though it’s been increasing. He said the jail has probably lost about 20 people in corrections positions since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Before the pandemic the jail saw a daily average of about 500 inmates, said Goulet. Unlike a state prison, the population at a county jail is very fluid. The average stay for an inmate at the Cumberland County Jail is 10 days, Goulet said.

Other county jails in Maine have had COVID-19 outbreaks during the pandemic, including the York County Jail, the Penobscot County Jail and the Aroostook County Jail. The Cumberland County Jail also had an outbreak in April.

For the outbreak to be considered under control, according to guidelines of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone at the jail must have two consecutive negative test results and no new positives for 30 days after that, Goulet said.

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