NEWPORT, Vt. (AP) — Vermont's Northern State Correctional Facility has been declared free of COVID-19, the Department of Corrections says.

The all-clear came after five consecutive rounds of testing at the Newport prison found no cases of the virus among inmates.

Three cases were detected among prison staff, including one during the most recent round of testing on April 15, but contact tracing found that the case posed no threat to the incarcerated population.

The outbreak began Feb. 23 when testing found the virus in one staff member and 21 inmates. A total of 179 incarcerated individuals tested positive during the outbreak.

"We are thankful the Vermont Department of Health has cleared us from all outbreak protocols," Corrections Commissioner Jim Baker said in a statement on Tuesday. "We are thankful there was not serious illness, and we do not take that fact for granted."

In other pandemic-related news:

RARE VACCINE BREAKTHROUGH CASES

A small percentage of people may still get sick from COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated in what are called vaccine breakthrough cases, Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said on Tuesday.

"Because as effective as they are, no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness," he said during the governor's twice weekly virus briefing. Levine said he believed that there have been 125 such cases in Vermont.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the rate of vaccine breakthrough is .007%, Levine said.

"According to national data, these COVID-19 cases were in people of all ages, 45% were 60 or older, 65% female, 29% had no symptoms. Importantly, just 396 people nationwide —7% with breakthrough infections —were known to be hospitalized and 74, or 1% died," Levine said.

He pointed out that the data relies on voluntary reporting from state health departments so may not be a complete picture and some cases may not be found because people did not get tested.

Recommended for you