An inmate at the Kennebec County Correctional Facility in Augusta has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in a quarantine block at the jail. Above, officers stand outside the facility’s main entrance in August 2017. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

AUGUSTA — An inmate at the Kennebec County Correctional Facility in Augusta has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in a quarantine block at the jail.

Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason announced the male inmate’s condition at Tuesday’s meeting of the Kennebec County Commissioners.

“My staff that had any close contact were put out and tested, and they are back,” he said. “They are all negative. They quarantined, like they are supposed to.”

He said the jail’s video surveillance system was able to keep track of the corrections officers who came into contact with the infected inmate, who was asymptomatic and showing no symptoms.

“It’s unfortunate the charges he’s in there for are very significant and he’s not going to get out,” Mason said.

Mason did not speak specifically to the charges the inmate faces.

Mason said all inmates who are brought to the jail follow a quarantine protocol that includes separating them from other inmates.

“We are following all (Center for Disease Control & Prevention) policies and recommendations,” Mason said, “and so far, it’s working.”

This is the second case of COVID-19 infection that has been reported at the Kennebec County jail.

Mason said Tuesday a woman who tested positive had been brought to the jail, but because her charges were not serious, she did not remain at the jail.

As of Tuesday, the jail population was 122 inmates.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, officials at the jail have taken steps to reduce its population, including furloughing inmates who were convicted of nonviolent crimes or who were near the end of their custodial sentences.

Mason has also asked municipal police departments in Kennebec County not to “go actively warrant hunting.”

Last year, the Maine Department of Corrections, which does not supervise the county jails, conducted two inspections at the state’s jails to see what was being done to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The first inspection, conducted at the end of August and beginning of September, showed the Kennebec County jail had not implemented a diversion plan or a universal testing plan. Neither staff members nor visitors were subjected to symptom or temperature checks, and staff members, inmates and visitors were not wearing masks.

A subsequent inspection of the jail showed steps had been taken to address recommendations that had been made.

At the time of the second inspection, Mason noted no cases of COVID-19 had been reported at the Kennebec County jail.

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