The Aroostook County Jail in Houlton. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

HOULTON, Maine — A COVID-19 outbreak at Aroostook County Jail will shut down most in-person services and temporarily halt the facility from taking in any new inmates, according to the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office.

Three inmates tested positive for the virus and seven were awaiting results Wednesday afternoon. No staff has tested positive for the virus yet, Sheriff Shawn Gillen said.

“After consulting with the [Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention] and reviewing the Aroostook County Jail policy on infectious diseases, it was determined that the facility has a COVID-19 outbreak,” Gillen said. “Per the Aroostook County Jail Policy, it is considered a COVID-19 outbreak when three or more inmates test positive for the virus.”

All current inmates and staff working at the jail will be tested as a result of the outbreak. The jail’s medical provider will provide any treatment required to both staff and inmates. All in-person programs, with the exception of emergency medical and mental health treatments, will be postponed.

In addition, the sheriff’s office said that any new arrests will be diverted to other jails in nearby counties such as Piscataquis and Penobscot that have room. Other jail activities such as court appearances, peer counseling and treatment services will continue, but will be held via videoconferencing.

The Sheriff’s Office is consulting with Maine CDC regarding when it may be able to resume normal operations, but anticipates a 28-day cycle before operations can return to normal conditions.