The Mercer County Correction Center has been designated with “outbreak” status by the New Jersey Department of Health, after eight inmates and four staff members out of approximately 205 have tested positive for COVID-19.
An outbreak is defined as an occurrence of disease greater than would otherwise be expected at a particular time and place, and as a result of the designation, the Correction Center will be required to take direction from NJDOH and the local health officer.
All incarcerated individuals who have tested positive have been quarantined to the Medical Social Distance Unit for observation and treatment, and employees who have tested positive are on leave. Beginning May 18, all inmates are being tested for COVID-19, and health officers anticipate a significant number of tests will be positive, as has been the case in institutions and congregate living quarters statewide and nationally.
In New Jersey state correctional facilities, 602 incarcerated individuals and 607 NJDOC employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Forty-two inmate deaths have been attributed to coronavirus.
Nationwide, COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly throughout correctional facilities. The Marshall Project reports that nearly 10,000 prison-housed individuals have tested positive for coronavirus across the country, and that the number of new cases doubles each week. Due to lack of testing and failure to report accurate statistics, the true number may be much higher.
As with all COVID-19 cases, contact tracing will occur, and additional precautionary screenings will be conducted for all inmates who had been housed on the same unit as the individual testing positive. There have been no COVID-19 related deaths at the jail.
Since March, visitor restrictions have been in place at the facility. Additionally, the facility actively screens for fever and respiratory symptoms in all staff and contractors, as well as inmates and individuals coming into the facility at intake.
The jail continues to follow the guidance provided by the New Jersey Department of Health as it relates to the safety of employees and inmates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mercer County Correction Center’s current daily population is approximately 300, and the jail has capacity for approximately 850. Physical distancing continues to be stressed to employees and inmates across the facility.