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MCF-Lino Lakes COVID-19 Response

(Reviewed February 2, 2022)

Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell has directed each of the state’s prisons to implement “Stay with Unit” plans to provide living unit separation, and to minimize the potential for COVID-19 spread. “Stay with Unit” ensures incarcerated individuals participate in facility activities, including any programming, yard time, and dining, only with others in their living unit. By providing living unit separation, better social distancing becomes possible and we minimize the potential for widespread outbreaks across entire facilities.

At MCF-Lino Lakes, the “Stay with Unit” plan allows for further separation and distancing by only one wing in a unit engaging in a particular activity at a given time. The following additional measures have been taken to protect those within the Lino Lakes facility.

Masks: During certain times of the pandemic, such as an outbreak and/or highly contagious variant, we will at times place all facility staff in N95 masks. Staff are required to wear masks at all times inside the facility. All incarcerated people have been supplied surgical masks. Each person has been given an ample supply of masks and instructions on how to put it on, and how to take it off safely. Staff are required to wear masks in the facility and the incarcerated population are required to wear them when outside their cells. The DOC follows Minnesota Department of Health guidelines for when and how personal protective equipment is used.

Co-Pays: Medical co-pays have been reinstated for most situations: including routine medical, dental, eye and physical exams. Any individual reporting respiratory/cold/cough systems will NOT be charged a co-pay at this time. We had previously waived ALL medical co-pays for the duration of the Governor’s declared emergency.

Protecting Staff and their Families: MCF-Lino Lakes has implemented a number of measures to protect staff and their families. Similar to staff at health care facilities, staff have been provided guidance for steps to take to protect their families while they continue to come to work every day. Information has been distributed and is on posters at the facility for washing hands when they leave work, designating a door of their home just for them to enter and exit, changing clothes and showering when they get home, and avoiding sharing food, among other steps.

Hand washing stations: MCF-Lino Lakes has a permeant sink inside the lobby available for hand washing when entering. Twelve additional hand sanitizer receptacles have been installed throughout the facility. Restrooms and kitchenettes also have sinks to utilize for washing hands. All individuals (staff and incarcerated persons) are encouraged to wash their hands frequently throughout the day.

Screening: All staff have their temperature taken and are screened on a daily basis for recent symptoms. If they have been symptomatic, a physician’s approval is required to return to work. All staff are provided with protective masks and are required to wear them.

Isolation Plans: MCF-Lino Lakes has an isolation plan in place. Incarcerated persons presenting symptoms will be secured in their cell and Health Services will be contacted. Health Services will assess the individual and determine if quarantine or isolation is needed. If a person in a living unit tests positive for COVID, the unit is placed on quarantine status and the positive individual is removed to an isolation unit. 

Phones: Incarcerated individuals now receive two free five-minute phone calls per week in addition to the standard calls they could already purchase. The user sanitizes the phones after each use.

In-person Visiting: In-person visiting at Lino Lakes is currently closed. Visitors are notified of openings and closing by text message if they have enrolled in this service. All visits must be scheduled in advance. 

Video Visiting: Video visits are available at a reduced rate and the hours have been expanded. The user sanitizes the video visiting kiosks after each use.

Showers and Bathrooms: Incarcerated people still have access to showers and bathroom facilities. The showers and bathrooms are running as usual with proper social distancing. This means limiting the number of Incarcerated persons in bathrooms that are shared at a time. The minimum-security units are limiting one Incarcerated person per bathroom at any given time.

Recreation, Yard, and Courtyard Time: At Lino Lakes, the gym and fitness areas are open to each unit wing one at a time. Security staff monitor social distancing and recreation janitors disinfect exercise equipment. The yard schedules have been increased, and courtyard time for living units is available multiple times per day. All team and contact sports have been suspended until further notice. Signs have been posted to remind Incarcerated persons about social distancing. 

Food Services: MCF-Lino Lakes is serving all three meals a day in the living units. 

Work: Incarcerated persons are working in essential jobs in order to assist with the day-to-day operation of the facility. Work opportunities have expanded to support the operation of the facility. Incarcerated workers operate under a “stay with unit” protocol to avoid intermingling with those from other units.    

Medication: Lino Lakes’ medication distribution is being conducted at the pill window. Health Services staff utilizes a “stay with unit” plan to avoid intermingling.

Mail and Emails: Incarcerated people can still send and receive mail and emails as they normally would.

Canteen: Items purchased from the Incarcerated persons store are still being delivered to the units.

Education: A combination of limited in person educational services and distance learning has resumed. In person learning still follows the guidelines of staying with your unit and only individuals from the same unit are allowed to go to education during their allotted time. Distance learning will consist of materials given to students to be completed in their respective living units. The Internal TV Messaging Network will be utilized to provide a daily schedule of programs provided to students as well as communications for daily and weekly work assignment distribution, assistance, and collection.

Treatment: Treatment programming continues in non-quarantined or isolated units. Programming is also following stay with unit, PPE, and social distancing guidelines, along with cleaning protocols. Treatment programs from isolation or quarantine units continue to be provided via a distance learning model.

Television: Incarcerated people still have access to televisions—both in their room and in the common areas, with the appropriate social distancing.

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