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Corrections facilities rollout COVID-19 vaccines to inmates and employees

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 7:53 AM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Nearly 1,300 inmates and Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOCR) employees will get their first round of COVID-19 vaccines this week.

Inmates are qualified to get the Pfizer vaccine under the state’s Phase 1-B category since they live in congregate settings.

The Department of Health has provided all the vaccines, which are being administered all week.

Hundreds of DOCR inmates will no longer be at risk of contracting the coronavirus.

“People have to eat together, they have to sleep together. They live in cramped quarters all the time,” said DOCR interim Director Dave Krabbenhoft.

Krabbenhoft, says the vaccine rollout will allow facilities to get back to a new normal.

“Freedom of movement within the institution will come back. Hopefully we can get back to work release at our minimum facilities, our volunteers can start coming back into the facility,” said Krabbenhoft.

Krabbenhoft says once the vaccines have been administered, COVID regulations can be loosened.

“We’re hoping to get visitation open up for our residents for the first time in almost a year,” said Krabbenhoft.

This week the Burleigh-Morton Detention Center began using rapid COVID-19 testing to inmates.

“People that are going to be transferred out to DOCR and serving a sentence there; they all need to be tested before being transferred,” said Burleigh Morton Detention Center program manager, Jen Rewald.  

Current inmates can also be tested for quarantine reasons. Instead of sending tests to the state lab, detention center staff can get results in 15-minutes.

Others who qualify to for the vaccine in the second phase include anyone over the age of 65, child care workers and employees of preschools and kindergarten through 12th grade.

The third phase includes other essential workers and anyone with an increased risk for COVID-19.

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