20210924-LOC-Jail

The main entrance at the Cheshire County jail in Keene.

A COVID-19 outbreak within the Cheshire County Department of Corrections has grown to 13 total cases, according to Cheshire County jail Superintendent Doug Iosue.

The county had reported five infections — four among inmates and one staff member — last week, the first coronavirus cases the jail in Keene had seen during the pandemic, Cheshire County Administrator Christopher Coates said at the time.

Of the 12 inmates infected, five were still considered active cases as of Friday, according to Iosue. Five others have recovered, and two of the inmates have been released from the Route 101 facility, he said.

None of the inmates who contracted the virus are vaccinated, Iosue said. COVID-19 vaccines are available to anyone in custody at the jail, he said Friday, estimating that roughly 40 percent of inmates have gotten the shot.

“We highly encourage it for the inmates, but we can’t mandate it,” he said.

The corrections department learned last Monday that an inmate, who had been transferred to a different facility, had tested positive for COVID-19, Coates said in a news release last Friday. An inmate from the same housing unit as the one who was transferred to another facility began showing symptoms, which prompted testing of the entire unit.

The four inmates who tested positive, and three others who had tested negative but exhibited mild symptoms, were transferred to a specialized unit for isolation and monitoring, the county’s news release stated.

Iosue said Friday that the outbreak has been contained to a single unit in the jail. Staff there are testing several inmates from each unit every day to monitor any viral spread, he said.

One Department of Corrections staff member has also been infected in the outbreak, according to Iosue. That employee tested positive earlier this month and has since recovered and returned to work after quarantining at home, he said.

Meanwhile, all residents and staff members at the county-owned Maplewood Nursing Home in Westmoreland tested negative for COVID-19 this week, administrator Kathryn Kindopp wrote in a letter posted on the county website. Two direct-care workers tested positive for the viral disease last week.

Sentinel reporter Caleb Symons contributed to this story.

Jack Rooney can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or jrooney@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @RooneyReports.