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MCF-St. Cloud COVID-19 Response

(Updated May 4, 2020)

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.

The following additional measures have been taken to protect those within the St. Cloud facility. This list is not necessarily exhaustive of all measures in place.

Masks: Cloth barrier have been distributed to staff and incarcerated people at all DOC facilities. Each person has been given instructions for how to care for the mask, how to put it on, and how to take it off safely. A video was developed for instruction on care and wear of the masks for the inmates. The masks are required to be worn in the facility.

MFC-St. Cloud Health Services staff have N95 masks, and there are a limited number of N95s for corrections officers to use when escorting symptomatic inmates to isolation, or when packing up the property of a symptomatic inmate. The DOC follows Minnesota Department of Health guidelines for when and how personal protective equipment is used.

Co-Pays: We have waived all medical co-pays for the duration of the Governor’s declared emergency to ensure no one is discouraged from seeking care.

Protecting Staff and their Families: MCF-St. Cloud has implemented a number of measures to protect staff and their families. Similar to staff at health care facilities, DOC 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-St. Cloud has installed five new hand washing stations in the facility. Two hand washing sinks were installed in the lobby to the facility, one was installed in the Intake area and two were installed for contractors in the construction sites. All individuals are required to wash their hands when entering and exiting the facility. Hand sanitizer receptacles have been installed throughout the facility, including main corridors. Inmate restrooms and kitchenettes also have sinks to wash hands. All individuals (staff and inmates) are encouraged to wash their hands frequently throughout the day.

Screening: All staff are screened on a daily basis. The screening incudes body temperature monitoring from an Infrared Thermometer. All staff are provided with protective masks and are required to wear them.

Isolation Plans: MCF-St. Cloud has an isolation plan in place. If an inmate is exhibiting symptoms suspicious for Covid-19, he will be placed into isolation in Restrictive Housing, under investigation. The inmate have their personal property, phone call access, video visits, showers, canteen, etc. The inmate is tested for influenza and Covid-19 and nursing staff will assess each shift. The inmate is released from isolation on a case-by-case basis upon review of health status.

New Intake Quarantine: All newly-incarcerated men in Minnesota now come to MCF-St. Cloud for intake. All have their temperature taken, are screened for symptoms, and are quarantined for 14 days upon arrival. The quarantine unit is fully self-contained and inmates do not co-mingle with the general population. Pills and health service are handled in this unit along with meals being delivered to the unit. The inmates are given separate recreation time with groups that came in at the same time. All inmates in this unit are given masks and are mandated to wear them when they are out of their cells.

On the twelfth day of quarantine, every person is tested for COVID-19 before being either moved to general population or transferred to another facility. Upon arrival at the new facility, they are quarantined for another 14 days before being moved to general population.

Phones: Inmates now receive two free five-minute phone calls per week in addition to the standard calls they could already purchase. Phones are cleaned with germicidal spray after each individual use.

Video Visiting: Loved ones on the outside now receive one free 15-minute video visit per week. Additional video visits can also be purchased at a reduced rate, and hours at St. Cloud will be expanding as modified programming is developed. Video kiosks are cleaned with germicidal spray after each individual use.

Showers and Bathrooms: Inmates still have access to showers and bathroom facilities. St Cloud inmates have access to showers daily and have toilets in their cells. Residents in the two living unit dormitories have adequate showers and toilets in common areas for their individual use.

Recreation, Yard, and Courtyard Time: Certain “no contact” games are still allowed, as is playing catch, using exercise equipment, and lifting weights. The ball diamond at St Cloud is currently too wet for outside recreation—instead, a new daily gym schedule is in place which promotes social distancing by limiting the number of inmates in the gym during each rec period. The new schedule is divided up by specific galleys in a living unit, so there is proper distancing of inmates and no mixing with other living units. Equipment is disinfected with germicidal spray.

Food Services: At St. Cloud, meals are being packaged into boxes. General population inmates are fed in the dining room, in limited numbers and per unit, to maintain proper social distancing—which means inmates from different units do not co-mingle. The inmates receive a clammed meal so there is no cross contamination with the food service worker and the inmates going into the dining room. The tables in the dining room are sanitized after each group leaves the dining room.

Work: St. Cloud has inmates who are working in food service, kitchen, canteen, laundry, swampers, and as peer mentors in the Intake Unit.

Medication: St. Cloud delivers all meds to the LUE, which is the Intake Unit, and the Restricted Housing Unit. All general population inmates go to the Pill Window but are sent down in smaller groups than before and also per unit, and maintain proper social distancing while they wait in line for their medications.

Mail and Emails: St. Cloud inmates can still send and receive mail and emails as they normally would.

Canteen: Items purchased from the inmate store are still being delivered to the living units.

Education: St. Cloud is currently providing in unit tutoring and distance learning. Teachers are providing educational assignments appropriate to the level and subject that each currently enrolled student needs to continue to progress towards his education goal(s). A system was developed to deliver educational materials to students and for students to return completed work to education for checking and feedback. Student/teacher communication can also occur via kite. The provision of special education and related services is being provided through curriculum-based instructional activities that are sent to each student. CTE students have access to their program textbooks and related study materials.

Treatment: St. Cloud is currently conducting treatment programs in the living units. Modified substance use disability programming with individual distance learning plans have been implemented.

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

ITV Hearings: All court appearances are being conducted via Interactive TV. Inmates from different units have their hearings done with sufficient time in between to prevent co-mingling.

General Population : All staff and inmates are given protective masks and are encouraged to wear them, except for the Intake Unit where inmates are mandated to wear the masks. The inmate unit workers are given cleaning supplies and protective gloves and masks. They regularly clean the units.

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