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Six Confirmed COVID-19 Cases at State Prison in Deer Lodge

The Montana Department of Corrections announced last week six new coronavirus cases among inmates at Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge.

The DOC hadn’t reported any new cases of COVID-19 at any of its facilities since February. The cases at MSP were identified in late March.

MSP screens all incoming inmates before placing them in quarantine for 14 days. According to a press release from the DOC, the six cases were asymptomatic when they arrived at MSP but later four inmates developed symptoms.

“These were from inmates that were transferred from other facilities. And what you have to understand is that we are moving people on a daily basis. But we were able to identify that these were from other facilities,” said DOC Director Brian Gootkin.

According to the DOC’s COVID-19 tracking website seven staff members at state run DOC facilities tested positive for coronavirus in late March. However, Gootkin says these cases are unrelated to the inmate positives at MSP.

According to a press release, clinical staff at DOC facilities began COVID-19 vaccinations for those eligible in Phase 1B in February and then Phase 1B+ in March.

Of the state prison’s nearly 1,400 inmates, 20% are fully vaccinated. About half of all Montana State Prison inmates have declined to receive the shot.