Department of Corrections Commissioner Wally F. Villagomez on Friday issued the following statement:
At the Department of Corrections, the health and safety of our inmate population and staff is our top priority. Since the spike of COVID-19 in the community, it was inevitable that some staff and inmates would be exposed or found positive for COVID-19. There have been less than 10% of the inmate population found positive for COVID-19, but they were separated from other inmates.
Inmates and staff have been tested several times. Each inmate is monitored daily for symptoms, and if necessary are tested again. Each staff member is required to report symptoms, have temperature readings when entering the facility, and follow CDC and CHCC recommendations regarding hand washing and/or hand sanitizing. Additionally, all staff and inmates are issued N95 masks. All officers are required to wear them within the facility, and the inmates are required to wear their masks if they are outside of their cell.
Currently, there are only three inmates that require separation, and the positive officers have returned to work after the required time for quarantine. Staffing has been strained due to COVID-19, but the Department of Corrections has hired six employees in 2021. While DPS has assisted with security of inmates that are being separated, every Corrections officer must attend an academy prior to entering the facility. DOC has received many applications for the upcoming Corrections Academy. The Academy has been planned with the assistance of Northern Marianas College, Department of Public Safety, and the Attorney General’s Office at the beginning of 2022 with approximately 30 positions.