BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — General visitation has been temporarily suspected at all Massachusetts Department of Corrections facilities, as two weeks of COVID-19 testing begins for all inmates and staff.
According to the DOC, beginning Saturday Nov. 14th, the Department's 16 facilities will go into "modified operations" for 14 days to allow for a second round of universal coronavirus testing.
While general visitation will be suspended during that time, attorney visits and releases from custody will continue as scheduled.
Inmates will still have access to medication distribution, sick calls, medical appointments, mental health contacts, showers, disinfecting of rooms, telephone use, and tier time.
"To promote and maintain connected relationships with families and loved ones while the pandemic necessarily limits visitation, the Department launched video visitation this summer and is in the process of expanding its video infrastructure to provide for virtual visitations at all facilities," the DoC said. "The Department is also expanding inmate access to phone and email communication during this time."
The DOC said its COVID-19 mitigation strategies included identifying and utilizing quarantine areas, implementing pre-entry screening areas, enhancing cleaning and sanitizing practices, providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and distributing hundreds of thousands of masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment to inmates, patients, and staff at all facilities.
"Mobile testing teams provided testing at all DOC facilities this summer, and day-to-day testing for symptomatic inmates and their close contacts has been conducted throughout the pandemic, along with strategic and targeted testing," the DoC said. "Department policy continues to be guided by the latest guidance from state and federal public health agencies."
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