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70% of inmates at Waseca prison have contracted COVID-19, FMC outbreak reaches new high

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Waseca Prison
FCI Waseca
FMC Rochester
Federal Medical Center in Rochester

WASECA, Minn. (KTTC) -- Seventy-percent of inmates at the Waseca federal prison have contracted COVID-19.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), 417 inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution in Waseca have tested positive since the pandemic began.

The prison holds nearly 600 women. According to BOP, 212 inmates have recovered, and 205 are infected with the virus.

That means the facility has the second-highest number of active cases among federal prisons in the United States.

No prisoners have died.

Meanwhile in Rochester, cases among inmates at the Federal Medical Center reached a new high.

Twenty-five inmates have the virus, nearly double from a week ago. Eight staff members have also tested positive.

The prison was clear of the virus just a few weeks ago after an August outbreak sickened more than a dozen men.

But data reported on Sept. 21 showed five staff members tested positive for the virus. Now, a second outbreak continues to grow at the FMC Rochester.

The family members of some inmates at FCI Waseca have told KTTC that they have requested home confinement, alleging poor care by the prison.

In a statement to KTTC on Sept. 25, the Bureau of Prisons said in part it's urgently reviewing which inmates are eligible for home confinement.

The Bureau went on to say:

"The BOP has instituted a comprehensive management approach that includes screening, testing, appropriate treatment, prevention, education, and infection control measures."

"Effective June 19, 2020, all inmates entering or departing any BOP facility [...] are screened and tested by medical staff for COVID-19 upon arrival, and placed in quarantine or medical isolation."

"If an inmate tests negative and is asymptomatic (with no symptoms), they remain in quarantine for at least 14 days and are observed for symptoms and signs of the illness during the incubation period, and must test negative again with a commercial PCR test prior to being placed in general population.  If an inmate tests positive and/or is symptomatic for COVID-19, the inmate is placed in medical isolation until they are considered recovered by medical staff as determined by CDC guidelines."

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Byron Tollefson

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