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Significant COVID-19 outbreak at Waseca federal prison

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WASECA, Minn. (KTTC) -- The federal prison in Waseca has a substantial COVID-19 outbreak.

There are 88 active cases of COVID-19 among prisoners at the Federal Correctional Institution Waseca, according to a list maintained by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The low-security facility holds 605 female prisoners.

That equates to nearly 15% of inmates testing positive. There are also two active confirmed cases among staff.

All visits to the facility have been suspended until further notice, per the prison's website.

Waseca County has seen an "alarming" spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. The county had Minnesota's highest COVID-19 testing positivity rate during a two-week period in August. In that time, more than 50 people per 10,000 tested positive.

Dozens of Waseca students were exposed to the virus, forcing the public school district to move grades seven through 12 from hybrid to distance learning.

Waseca Public Schools Superintendent Eric Hudspith told KTTC on Sept. 15 that some of those cases in the community can be attributed to the prison.

"We know that the people that work in those facilities live in our community," Hudspith said. "There's the opportunity to spread COVID around our community based on those folks' working environment."

Nearly 1,948 federal inmates have tested positive across the country. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 122 prisoners have died.

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Byron Tollefson

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