17% of prisoners at MCI-Shirley have COVID-19


Nov 24, 2020
CommonWealth Magazine
By Sarah Betancourt

THE NUMBER of COVID-19 cases at the medium security state prison in Shirley spiked from five just two weeks ago to 142 as of Tuesday, according to the Department of Correction.

There are currently 832 individuals incarcerated at MCI-Shirley medium, according to weekly count data, which means 17 percent of the population has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Case counts have also been rising at other prisons. There are currently 96 prisoners with COVID-19 at MCI-Concord, which has seen a large cluster of ongoing cases for the past month. MCI-Norfolk, which had a large cluster, is now down to 26 cases. There also three at MCI-Shirley minimum, one at NCCI Gardner, one at Pondville Correctional Center, and one at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital Correctional Unit.

Overall, 270 of the 6,700 inmates in the state prison system had the virus as of Tuesday, according to statistics provided by the Department of Correction.One public defender, Dave Rangaviz, tweeted he’s heard the prisoner case count is much higher at NCCI Gardner — 31 cases instead of just one. “It’s because they only report PCR [molecular] confirmatory tests as positives, not rapid tests,” said Rangaviz in an interview.

A number of staff also have the virus – 42 at MCI-Concord, 21 at MCI-Shirley medium, 23 at the Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center in Plymouth, and 10 at MCI-Norfolk. The remaining prisons and offices have a smaller number of staff cases.

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