ROCHESTER, Minn. - At the Federal Correctional Institution in Waseca - 108 inmates and 3 staff members have tested positive. At the Federal Medical Center in Rochester - 5 staff members and 2 inmates have the virus. This comes weeks after inmates were transported to Rochester from a hotspot. Staffers and a family member want some things changed.
Working in the incarceration system means living in constant fear for staffers at prisons like the Federal Medical Center.
"It is scary for people to wonder if they're not bringing this home to their families," Bill Axford, a union leader, said.
Axford expects cases will keep increasing in the Federal Medical Center.
"This all happened because of poor policy and the poor policy continues - there have been no changes as far as we can tell with the shipment of inmates," Axford said.
Axford says prisons need to change the way it moves inmates around to stop outbreaks.
"You can quarantine them and test them before you ship them out - then we know - we're probably relatively safe to ship these people across the country - you can never be 100 percent certain - but just a small step like that would make a world of difference," Axford said.
Julie Tackett has a loved one locked up at FMC. She believes the outbreaks indicate a broken system.
"We're now starting to feel what the rest of the jails and prisons in the United States have experienced since the very beginning," Tackett said.
Tackett believes it's time to consider lowering prison populations.
"Most of the people that I know in that facility and their family members are no threat to society - they're sick, old and dying and it creates an overcrowded condition where the system cannot adapt," Tackett said.
KIMT News 3 reached out to the Bureau of Prisons for a statement. The Bureau says if a staff member has symptoms or is in contact with a person who tests positive - staff will get a letter from the Bureau to provide to the local Health Department so they can get COVID-19 testing. The Bureau also says staff, contractors and other visitors must get a COVID-19 screening and temperature check to enter the facility. Anyone with a temperature of 100 degrees or more is denied access to the building.