St Paul (KROC AM News) - So far, Minnesota’s state prisons have not experienced widespread cases of COVID-19.

The Minnesota Department of Corrections Friday released a summary of its current situation and announced plans to change its early and medical release policies.

The department reported just two of its 11 correctional facilities have incarcerated people with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The department has established a new process through which certain adult inmates may apply for conditional medical release. It is available for those who have a serious medical condition that puts them at higher risk of grave harm from COVID-19. The department says the commissioner of corrections "has long had the authority to place adult inmates on conditional medical release before they reach their supervised release date if they suffer from a grave medical condition and their release poses no threat to the public."

The department is also implementing a temporary policy to expedite release of certain inmates who are already within 90 days of their regularly-scheduled release date and are rated a low or medium risk to re-offend. They must have an approved place to live in a community-based facility or residence and have access to a landline or internet access with a camera-capable device. The department says it is an expansion “of its longstanding transitional work-release program that will maintain community safety and better protect both staff and those who remain incarcerated.”

The department has released this summary of COVID-19 activity:

· Of the 212 incarcerated individuals tested for COVID-19, 122 were asymptomatic at the time of the test. Thirty tested positive. Those 30 remain asymptomatic.

· 30 other incarcerated individuals who were confirmed positive or presumed positive have had their symptoms resolve and have returned to the general population.

· One incarcerated person is currently hospitalized with COVID-19 related complications. A second person was hospitalized with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 but tested negative.

· All others are isolated and being treated in their facility with mild to moderate symptoms.

The department has focused its testing at the facilities in MCF-Moose Lake and MCF-Willow River where COVID-19 cases were first detected.

Cloth barrier masks have been distributed to all DOC staff working in the facilities and all people who are incarcerated. In addition, staff at Moose Lake and Willow River have been issued N95s.

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