The number of incarcerated people housed in the Department of Correction’s COVID Recovery Unit has increased during the month of September, according to the agency, mirroring trends observed by Connecticut hospitals.
As of Tuesday, there were 40 incarcerated individuals housed at the department’s COVID unit at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield. That’s an increase over the unit’s count of 28 on Sept. 1 and a stark jump over the eight people who were housed there on Aug. 1.
The DOC’s COVID unit had logged monthly counts in the single digits since April 1, when it reported just two individuals in the unit, a sharp drop from 68 the month before.
“As with the general public we are seeing a slight uptick in the number of Covid positives for both the incarcerated population, as well as for staff,” Andrius Banevicius, a spokesperson for the agency, said in an email this week. “Also, much like the general population, the vast majority of those who test positive have mild cold-like symptoms.
Rising COVID rates have also impacted DOC staff as 149 employees had tested positive for the coronavirus and had not returned to work as of Tuesday. The department could not immediately provide monthly staff infection numbers for Sept. 1 or Aug. 1, but as of July 14, there were 51 staff members out with COVID.
The increases correspond to rising COVID rates reported by hospitals beginning in August, driven by a novel strain called “Eris” or “EG.5,” which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believed accounted for around 21% of cases.
On Tuesday, the CDC recommended that everyone over the age of six months receive an updated COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected to become available later this week.