A maximum security prison in Massachusetts is battling a coronavirus outbreak among inmates, the state Department of Correction said.
The agency said Wednesday that 29 inmates at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley have tested positive for COVID-19 this month. In addition, one inmate at the Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center in Plymouth has tested positive.
One prisoner is hospitalized with COVID-19.
The department reported zero inmate cases in all of July.
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Only 57% of correctional staff have been vaccinated according to the department, a lower rate than the state as a whole. Nearly 80% of inmates have been fully vaccinated.
Elizabeth Matos, executive director of Massachusetts Prisoners’ Legal Services, said the state needs to mandate vaccinations for correctional staff as it has for staff at nursing homes.
The Department of Correction said it is taking measures to protect prisoners, including an education campaign to encourage vaccinations and requiring face coverings for people entering prisons.
“Every decision aligns with the latest state and federal public health guidance and focuses on mitigating the virus’ ability to enter and transmit within facilities,” the agency said in a statement. “The department takes immediate action to respond to any new cases and minimize transmission.”