October 26, 2020

COVID-19 in a correctional facility officer after multiple brief exposures to infected persons

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

In this study from the Vermont Departments of Health and Corrections and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an officer at a correctional facility in Vermont was found to test positive for the COVID-19 virus on August 11 after multiple brief exposures to six infected incarcerated people at the facility.

The six people had arrived from an out-of-state correctional facility on July 28 and were housed in a quarantine unit while awaiting the results of their COVID-19 tests when the interactions happened. All six were asymptomatic.


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Health officials reviewed surveillance footage of the officer’s interactions with the six infected people and found that:

  • he never spent 15 straight minutes within 6 feet of any of them
  • he was within 6 feet of them at least 22 times during one 8-hour shift, totaling 17 minutes of exposure.

During their interactions, the officer always had on a microfiber cloth mask, gown, and eye protection. He also word gloves most of the time. The infected incarcerated people were wearing masks most, but not all, of the time.

The officer had no known contact with anyone else with COVID-19, and COVID-19 cases were low in his home county and in the rest of the correctional facility.

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