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ACI inmate and 7 staff members test positive for COVID-19

Target 12

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — One inmate, who was just released from the Adult Correctional Institutions and seven staff members, including six correctional officers, have tested positive for COVID-19.

R.I. Department of Corrections spokesperson J.R. Ventura confirmed the female inmate was tested along with 84 other inmates during her four-day incarceration in the ACI women’s facility.

According to Ventura, her test came back positive after she was released three days ago, and he said she was isolated from the general population in a 14-day quarantine during her brief stint as part of the DOC’s policy for new inmates.

“The majority of the other tests have been negative,” Ventura said. “We are waiting on the results of the rest of the tests.”

Ventura would not release the woman’s name or comment on why she was released after only four days in prison.

The correctional officers and other staff member who tested positive for the disease are on paid leave, but Ventura said he could not comment on their conditions.

Ventura also said, “we do not have a decisive answer” about how the inmate contracted the virus.

According to R.I. Brotherhood of Correctional Officers (RIBCO) President Richard Ferruccio, the officers are not in serious condition, but one who is asymptomatic “has an underlying condtion.”

“That is obviously a concern and we’re watching that closely,” Ferruccio said.

Ferruccio emphasized the union is frustrated that the Department of Corrections has not provided N95 masks for the officers. (That type of mask includes a filter designed to trap contagions and other small particles.)

“We were supplied with just two surgical masks each at the beginning of this. That’s it.” Ferruccio said. “The brotherhood has spent $55,000 on masks and hand sanitizer. We hoped [DOC] would’ve understood the need for this.”

The ACI intake unit, which holds suspects right after they are arrested, has dealt with two people who tested positive for the virus before they were confined.

Ventura said those individuals were isolated in negative pressure cells with hepa filters to keep the air in the facility clean from the virus.

According to Ventura, since the crisis started, anyone brought to the intake unit is quarantined for 14 days, unless they’re released during that period, whether they have symptoms or not.

An earlier version of the story was changed after Ventura provided a new timeline indicating the inmate was released before testing positive for COVID-19.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.

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