BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A correctional officer at the Metropolitan Intake Center in Baltimore tested positive for COVID-19.
According to the state’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, the entire MTC facility in east Baltimore is on a mandatory quarantine due to the layout of the building.
The MTC is a transitional center for inmates about to be released. It was formerly the Maryland Penitentiary.
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AFSCME union president Patrick Moran said the officer had contact with at least seven other correctional officers.
Once an outbreak gets inside a prison, it’s very difficult to contain, he said.
“It is impossible to practice social distancing in the institutions. That’s why we are so concerned about the people working in there and the people they oversee,” Moran said.
Correctional officers are in a difficult position, he added, because of the close quarters inside the facilities and a lack of protective gear for them to wear.
This week, WJZ spoke to a correctional officer in the Jessup area who said protective gear is hard to come by in many correctional centers.
“My fear is that it’s already spread through the prison, and it’s just going to continue to spread like wildfire. And then, it’s going to be a disaster and I’m terrified,” the officer said.
Corrections officials said visitors are suspended from the facility until further notice.
MTC has not yet responded to WJZ’s questions regarding how many inmates are currently serving time and how many have had contact with the officer who tested positive for COVID-19.
Moran said now, more than ever, his members need personal protective gear.
“They need hand sanitizer, masks, gloves they need all of those things to give them some measure of protection during the day,” he said.
MTC said it will provide more information about the positive COVID-19 case Friday morning.