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MCF-Togo COVID-19 Response

(Updated April 29, 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 Togo facility. This list is not necessarily exhaustive of all measures in place.

Masks: Cloth barrier masks 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. The masks are required to be worn in the facility.

MCF-Togo 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-Togo 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-Togo has all staff enter the admin near washrooms and all individuals are required to wash their hands when entering and exiting the facility.

Additional hand sanitizer receptacles have been installed throughout the facility. 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 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-Togo has an isolation plan in place. MCF-TOGO has designated a building that will house inmates showing symptoms of, or testing positive for COVID-19. Inmates showing symptoms or testing positive will be housed in isolation. These inmates will be separated from the main population at all times. They will have access to regular meals, program and personal materials, showers, laundry, linen, mail, phones, religious materials, legal calls and canteen.

Phones: Inmates at Togo now receive two free five-minute phone calls per week in addition to the standard calls they could already purchase. Phones are cleaned before and after every use with germicidal disinfectant spray and by inmate cleaning crews multiple times per day.

Video Visiting: Loved ones on the outside now receive one free 15-minute video visit per week. Additional video visits can be purchased at a reduced rate, and hours have been expanded and Togo inmates can have video visits throughout the day. Video kiosks are cleaned before and after every use with germicidal disinfectant spray and by the inmate cleaning crews multiple times per day.

Showers and Bathrooms: Inmates still have access to showers and bathroom facilities. MCF-Togo inmates have access to two showers a day and regular access to bathrooms.

Recreation, Yard, and Courtyard Time: Outdoor recreation time is still occurring at MCF-Togo. Certain “no contact” games are still allowed, as is playing catch, using exercise equipment, and lifting weights. Social distancing is monitored by staff and disinfecting of equipment is done before and after each use and monitored by staff.

Food Services: MCF-Togo has divided up serving times so fewer inmates are in the dining hall at once. Inmates are separated by six feet at tables, and meal times have been extended.

Work: MCF-Togo has inmates working in laundry, cleaning crews, grounds cleaning and food services, they are practicing social distancing when working.

Medication: MCF-Togo does not have a pill window line, as all meds are “keep on person.”

Mail and Emails: MCF-Togo 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: MCF-Togo’s distance learning plans allows education to continue either by living unit or by homework packets given to the inmates. In some situations staff have recorded lessons to show participants.

Treatment: MCF-Togo’s distance treatment plan allows participants to continue either by living unit or by packets given to the inmates.

Television: MCF-Togo Challenge Incarceration Program inmates do not have access to television.

Additional Social Distancing: MCF-Togo has implemented a modified program schedule to ensure six foot spacing. All programming has been adjusted to ensure social distancing and that marching is being done with six foot spacing. There will be no graduation ceremonies for safety reasons.

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