A COVID-19 outbreak has infected 19 inmates, or about one-third of capacity, at a residential center in south Minneapolis that prepares low-risk federal prisoners to re-enter society, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons data.
A staff member has also tested positive for the virus at a facility in Rochester that holds federal inmates with long-term medical or mental health needs, according to the data.
These cases mark the first positive infections at BOP facilities in Minnesota. The residential re-entry center, located at 2825 E. Lake Street in Minneapolis and operated by Volunteers of America, holds 58 men who are permitted to serve part of their prison sentences in the community. The program helps them develop key skills to staying crime-free after release, such as financial and job readiness, parenting and building healthy relationships.
In a statement, Volunteers for America spokesman Steve Nelson said he couldn’t talk about specific inmates. He said the center has been in daily communication with the Minnesota Department of Health to implement best practices. Staff are now required to wear protective gear and inmates have been given masks. The center has temporarily closed communal spaces and visitation, and inmates are not working in the community until testing negative for the virus, said Nelson.
Across the country, more than 3,300 inmates and 250 staff members have active infections, according to BOP data. Forty-eight prisoners have died from the virus.
BOP declined to an interview request. In a statement, spokesman Scott Taylor said: “While a prison setting is unique when addressing a pandemic, the care and treatment of an identified positive COVID-19 case is not. The BOP follows CDC guidance the same as community doctors and hospitals with regard to quarantine and isolation procedures, along with providing appropriate treatment.”