MIDDLETON — Just over 15% of the people in custody at the Middleton Jail were found to be positive for COVID-19, testing conducted on all inmates and staff over the weekend revealed. 

Of the facility's 889 inmates, 137 tested positive, according to figures released Monday evening by the Essex County Sheriff. Among staff and vendors, 31 have tested positive in this latest outbreak. 

Officials stressed that nearly three-quarters of the inmates, 72%, were not showing symptoms as of the time of testing. Those with symptoms, officials said, were being treated by the jail's medical provider, Wellspring. No one has been hospitalized. 

“These are not surprising numbers," Sheriff Kevin Coppinger said in a press release sent out Monday evening. "We knew that testing everyone in our facilities would result in a higher count."

Coppinger said knowing the actual number of cases and being able to identify those without symptoms who could unknowingly spread the virus is "critical" to controlling the outbreak.

Late last month, the jail saw a sudden spike in cases. That led to the suspension of visitation at the Middleton Jail on Sept. 26 and a decision to stop bringing defendants awaiting trial to court appearances in person. 

The jail's spokeswoman also said last week that everyone in the facility was being given N95 or KN95 masks. 

Testing is scheduled to take place on Tuesday at the Women in Transition facility in Salisbury and the Pre-release and Re-entry Center (colloquially known as "The Farm") in Lawrence. No positive cases have been reported so far. 

Officials said they are also isolating inmates who test positive and conducting continuous cleanings.  


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