COVID-19 ALERT: Northeast Correctional Center

With its medical “surge” facility filling up with prisoners who have tested positive for the coronavirus, the state Department of Corrections is now working on a plan in case an even bigger outbreak of Covid-19 occurs behind bars in Vermont.

“We are now planning for worst-case scenario,” James Baker, interim commissioner of the state Department of Corrections, said late Thursday afternoon in a phone briefing with reporters.

“I’m talking about a major breakout in a facility where we get triple-digit numbers,” he said. “We have some ideas on how we could handle that, we’re working through that now.”

Baker said he expected “very shortly” to have that plan in place, but declined to go into detail Thursday.

“We’d be more than happy to brief people on that when we have that down on paper, in writing, with all the particulars worked out,” he said.

A total of 35 inmates who had been housed at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to corrections officials. The state is waiting for results on three other tests from inmates.

The results follow mass testing of workers and prisoners at the facility last week, initiated after an inmate and three corrections staff members tested positive for Covid-19.

In addition to the 35 inmates so far who have tested positive, a total of 17 correctional staff at that prison have tested positive for Covid-19, according to the department.