A COVID-19 outbreak at the Kennebec County Correctional Facility in Augusta has been contained to one block of the facility, with positive cases now down to five from a high of 32. Above, one of the jail’s corrections officers walks Nov. 29 past a razor wired fence. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

AUGUSTA — A monthlong COVID-19 outbreak at the Kennebec County Correctional Facility in Augusta has been contained to one block of the jail, with positive cases now down to five from a high of 32.

After meeting with jail administrators, Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason released an update Monday showing the greatly reduced number of coronavirus infections.

The update came as Maine is bracing for a post-holiday uptick in cases amid data suggesting the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19 is accelerating its spread across the state.

Mason first announced the outbreak at the jail Nov. 27 while informing law enforcement agencies across Kennebec County the facility at 115 State St. would impose limits on the number of inmates. He said at the time “fewer than 10” people at the jail had tested positive, marking the first outbreak at the facility since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

About three weeks ago, Mason said the case count at the jail had increased to 32, including 20 inmates and 12 staff members. The jail’s inmate population usually numbers about 140 and the staff about 50.

Mason told the Kennebec County Commissioners earlier this month that future outbreaks were possible.

The sheriff said Monday that of the five remaining positive cases at the jail, four involved inmates and the last an employee.

“We have one staff member due back this Wednesday,” Mason wrote Monday in an email. “The rest are clear.”

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