Five residents and one staff member at York County Jail in Alfred have tested positive for COVID-19. Two more staffers tested positive with a rapid test and were to undergo further testing, according to York County Sheriff William L. King. Tammy Wells photo

ALFRED – There has been an outbreak of COVID-19 at York County Jail in Alfred, according to York County Sheriff William L. King.

“We have been doing very well at the jail, avoiding another outbreak,” said King in a memo to staff on Monday, Dec. 13. “However, last week, our ‘luck’ ended. We had a staff member test positive with the PCR test. We tested his unit and found five residents positive. Consequently, we moved the positive residents into the medical unit.”

The sheriff went on to say that on Dec. 13, two other staff members tested positive with a rapid test.

They were to be given a PCR test within a day or two, said King.

He said on Tuesday, Dec. 14, a second round of testing in the original unit where the five residents had tested positive was to be conducted, along with testing of additional staff members.

“We are trying to remain as operationally normal as possible,” said King. He said the facility is taking new arrivals.


The first and only other COVID-19 outbreak at York County Jail happened in August 2020, when a corrections officer tested positive after attending a wedding in Millinocket. Before it wound down, the 2020 outbreak impacted 48 inmates, 48 staff members and 16 staff household contacts, according to a third-party investigation commissioned by the York County government. Former jail administrator Michael Vitiello, who had been placed on leave following the outbreak, was terminated in June over his handling of the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak at the facility.

Nathan Thayer was named interim administrator and was hired as administrator in September.

The Maine Department of Corrections in December 2020 praised the efforts of jail officials for a pandemic response plan they crafted and put into action following the 2020 outbreak.

“During my visit I was impressed with their screening process, their implementation and enforcement of mask wearing and encouraging social distance,” Adult Regional Correctional Manager Michael Lyon wrote in his report. “Both staff and inmates appeared to be taking the protocols seriously.”

King on Monday said neither the staff member nor the residents who had tested positive required hospitalization.

Other county jails in Maine have recently been dealing with COVID-19 within their walls. According to a Dec. 8 Portland Press Herald report, Cumberland County Jail reported 15 people at the jail had active infections at the time and 65 others had been listed as recovered. While some who tested positive initially were staff members, Cumberland County Jail Administrator Timothy Kortes told the Press Herald that all staff had tested negative the previous week.

As well, Aroostook County Jail in Houlton, Somerset County Jail in Madison, and Two Bridges Jail in Wiscasset experienced outbreaks in the latter part of October, according to the Morning Sentinel.

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