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MCF-St. Cloud COVID-19 Response

(Reviewed July 9, 2021)

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.

*** During the month of June, the facility continued to see a major reduction in positive cases or symptomatic individuals.  As a result, the facility is reducing restrictions on movement within the facility; however, it continues to follow the “Stay with Unit” plan.  ***

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. 

Masks: Cloth barrier masks have been distributed to 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. MCF-St. Cloud staff have been issued surgical masks and are to wear them while on duty in the facility. 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 are tested upon admission and again on day 7 and day 12 prior to being released from the intake quarantine unit, with the exception of individuals with verified vaccination. 

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 unvaccinated 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: 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 approved to resume on May 1. At present, it is limited to use by those residing in the General Population and restrictive housing unit. Outdoor recreation is taking place on the Ball Diamond and Courtyards. Recreation in the Gym continues to be discontinued. Recreation in the living units has been reinstated; however, frequency and group sizes vary from unit to unit.

Food Services: At present, all meals are being prepared and packaged by workers and 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. Incarcerated individuals are also working in the Food Service, Canteen and Laundry areas as well.

Medication: Medications are being administered at the pill windows in Health Services.

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 been reinstated.  

Treatment: St. Cloud has resumed conducting treatment programming in Reshape and Rivers designated programming areas.

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

ITV Hearings: 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. If an inmate 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 and incarcerated people are given protective 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 inmates 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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