County officials announced Monday that eight inmates and four staff members at the Mercer County Correction Center in Hopewell Township have tested positive for COVID-19. The jail currently houses about 300 prisoners but has a capacity for 850, and has 205 staff members.
The facility has now been designated as being in “outbreak status” by the New Jersey Department of Health. 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 now be required to take direction from the state and the local health officer.
Officials said all inmates who have tested positive have been quarantined to a medical social distance unit for observation and treatment. Employees who have tested positive are on leave.
All inmates will be tested for COVID-19. Officials said health officers anticipate that a significant number of inmate tests will come back as positive for COVID-19. Contact tracing will occur and additional precautionary screenings will be conducted for all inmates who had been housed on the same unit as any person testing positive. Officials said there have been no COVID-19 related deaths at the jail.
Since March, visitor restrictions have been in place at the facility, officials said. According to officials, social distancing has been stressed for employees and inmates, and the facility has actively been screening staff members and contractors for fever and respiratory symptoms. Inmates and individuals coming into the facility are also screened at intake, officials said.