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MCF-St. Cloud COVID-19 Response

(Reviewed March 10, 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.

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.

For questions about MCF-St. Cloud’s COVID response, contact 320-240-3000.

Vaccinations: Vaccination events are taking place on a weekly basis. Vaccinations are provided to those admitted to the facility during the previous week, as well as to those who have previously declined an opportunity to be vaccinated and have changed their mind. Plans are underway to offer booster doses of vaccine for both the incarcerated and staff.

Vaccination Status: Incarcerated individuals who are fully vaccinated (14 days after final dose of vaccine) have the option to have their ID badge stamped to provide a visual indicator of their vaccination status. Those who elect to have their badge stamped, are eligible to participate in additional activities unavailable to the unvaccinated due to the “Stay with Unit” plan. **The additional activities are suspended during periods of the facility being on modified lockup.** Staff who do not provide proof of vaccination are required to complete COVID testing each week (either through one of the twice weekly facility sponsored testing events, or through an outside testing venue) in order to continue working.

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 were 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-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 installed new hand washing stations in 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 and COVID-19 Testing: All staff are temperature screened daily upon entry into the facility. Incarcerated individuals in quarantine and isolation units are temperature screened daily.  Those in general population units are screened prior to leaving the unit for work/programming. The screening includes body temperature monitoring from an Infrared Thermometer. All new intakes, release violators, and those returning from writs are tested upon admission, on day 7 and on day 12 prior to being released from the intake quarantine unit, regardless of vaccination status. Prior to transfer to another facility, all incarcerated individuals will be tested, regardless of vaccination status.

Isolation Plans: MCF-St. Cloud has an isolation plan in place. If an incarcerated individual tests positive for Covid-19, he will be placed into isolation. Those on medical isolation status have personal property, phone call access, showers, canteen, etc. and are assessed by nursing staff each shift. Individuals are released from isolation on a case-by-case basis upon review of health status.

New Intake Medical Isolation: All new intakes (including WRIT returns, release violators, and/or transfers) are quarantined in our Intake Unit for 14 days. One daily intake group is considered a cohort and is separated from other cohort groups based on their different dates of admission. The new admits are given 3 separate COVID tests during their quarantine: day 1, day 7 and day 12. If the tests are negative, they leave the unit on the 15th day to either general population or transfer to another facility. Anyone who tests positive is placed in medical isolation. Individuals placed in isolation are permitted to bring some personal items, such as radios, tablets, fan, etc. When an individual tests positive, the remaining members of his cohort group will restart their 14 days of quarantine due to the possible exposure with the infected person.

Phones: Incarcerated people have access to make phone calls multiple times per week. Phones are cleaned with germicidal spray after each individual use.

In-person Visiting: In person visiting is scheduled to reopen on March 17. All visits must be scheduled in advance.

Video Visiting: Video visits are currently available.

Showers and Bathrooms: Incarcerated people have access to showers and bathroom facilities. Every effort is being made to ensure they have access to showers daily. Each cell has its own toilet and sink. Residents in the two living unit dormitories have adequate showers and toilets in common areas for their individual use.

Recreation, Yard, and Courtyard Time: Outdoor recreation was discontinued for the season on October 2nd and recreation in the Gym resumed on October 4th. 

Food Services: At present, we are providing two meals in the dining hall, but in a small cohort groups. Breakfast is still being delivered to the Living Units for consumption in the cells (bunks in the dorms). 

Work: There are incarcerated individuals working in the Living Units as House Crew to assist with cleaning the units and sanitizing phones, showers, and common areas. A small number of incarcerated individuals from a general population unit are also working in Food Service.

Medication: Medications are being administered through the pill line, but in small cohort groups.

Mail and Emails: Incarcerated individuals at St. Cloud can send and receive e-mail as they normally would if they have a tablet. Enhanced communication whereby incarcerated people without a tablet are able to send email to those outside the facility has been reinstated.

Canteen: Items purchased are delivered to the living units.

Education: Movement to education and vocational classrooms has resumed.

Treatment: St. Cloud has resumed conducting in-unit treatment programming in the Reshape and Rivers programs. Incarcerated individuals within RESHAPE eat within the unit, have phone access in unit, recreate in the unit on Thursday PMs as part of their treatment curriculum, and continue to have programming within the unit. With the exception of some Health Services needs, RESHAPE operates completely independently from other living units at this time. 

Television: Incarcerated people have access to personal televisions in their cells/bunk areas.

ITV Hearings: Court appearances are being conducted via Interactive TV. Incarcerated individuals from different units have their hearings done with sufficient time in between to prevent co-mingling. If an individual is on Isolation status at the time of a scheduled ITV hearing, the courts will be notified that the hearing needs to be rescheduled.

General Population: All staff are supplied with N95 masks and the incarcerated population are given surgical masks and are required to wear them. The incarcerated unit workers are given cleaning supplies and protective gloves, masks and eyewear. They regularly clean the units. The incarcerated workers and mentors in the Intake Unit are given additional protective equipment (such as face shields and gowns). Contact tracing investigation is done for all incarcerated individuals who had close proximity to the incarcerated who tested positive for the virus. Those who had concerning close proximity are placed in a 14-day quarantine in the facility’s quarantine unit. 

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