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Baltimore’s Metropolitan Transition Center on full quarantine after corrections officer tests positive for coronavirus

The Metropolitan Transition Center in Baltimore is on full quarantine after a corrections officer tested positive for the new coronavirus, Maryland’s prison system confirmed late Wednesday.

Details were not provided. The disclosure came two days after the prison system said it had its first confirmed cases of COVID-19, with an inmate and two non-corrections contract staff testing positive at facilities in Jessup and Baltimore.

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Because prison officials never disclosed at which Baltimore facility the previous positive test occurred, it was unclear whether the Metropolitan Transition Center case was a new facility to be impacted.

But the positive test led to the new step of quarantining the entire facility.

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“Due to the layout of this particular facility (the former MD State Pen, now a pretrial detention center), the decision was made to quarantine the entire population for their safety rather than designate a particular housing space,” said Mark Vernarelli, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Defense attorneys and advocates for prisoners have been calling on Gov. Larry Hogan to release eligible detainees amid the nation’s coronavirus crisis, saying that positive cases could spread quickly and that the system is not equipped to handle such an outbreak. Hogan has resisted the calls so far.

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