No new cases at Middlesex House of Correction for fifth week

FILE – In this Wednesday, March 11, 2020 file photo, a technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York’s Long Island. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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BILLERICA — For the fifth consecutive week, no inmates at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Sheriff Peter Koutoujian.

Fourteen tests were given over that span, all of which resulted in negative cases, according to a news release by the Middlesex Sheriff’s office.

Ten of those tests were given as “precautionary measures,” according to the sheriff. Four were for individuals entering the facility, who were also isolated according to protocol.

Of the 14 tests, seven were administered to inmates either being released or transferred to other jurisdictions.

Eleven Middlesex Sheriff Office employees have recovered from COVID-19 and donated plasma — an act which Koutjoujian said he is “incredibly proud of.” Convalescent plasma is being studied for the treatment of COVID-19. There is currently no approved treatment for coronavirus, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“I’m lucky enough to have fully recovered from COVID-19 on my own,” Crystal Miske, Program Coordinator for the Medication Assisted Treatment And Directed Opioid Recovery (MATADOR) program, said in a news release.

“…If I have the ability to give back by donating plasma to those who may not be as lucky to recover on their own, it’s a no-brainer for me.  If it could save only one person, or buy a family a few more moments or days with their loved one, I’d still do it. If you can help, you should,” Miske continued.

From mid-March to early May, population at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction fell by nearly 25%. The number of those on electronic monitoring tripled, according to a news release. As a result, four dormitory-style units were temporarily closed.

Safety protocols amid the pandemic included new screening procedures for new inmates, mask requirements, and enhanced cleaning of facilities.

“Over the past four months, our staff has done an incredible job confronting this unprecedented public health challenge,” Koutoujian said in a news release. “While we have reached an important milestone in our efforts to address COVID-19, we remain vigilant. The health and safety of our incarcerated population, our staff, and our wider community remain our chief priority.”