Portland prison faces officer shortage, mask rule overturned


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – A prison in Maine faces a shortage of correctional officers that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Portland’s Cumberland County Jail was closed on Monday due to the shortage. The prison is budgeted for 128 correctional officers and has 67 vacant positions, WMTW-TV reported.

The shortage was made worse by 13 correctional officers who recently tested positive for COVID-19, WMTW-TV reported. The prison restricted inmates to their cells for more than 23 hours a day due to the shortage, the station reported.

Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce said the jail had increased starting pay to attract new hires. The prison is also trying to attract candidates with a roadside advertising campaign.

Joyce said the vaccination rate for prison staff and inmates is around 50%. Those arrested in the county are currently being diverted to jails in other counties to deal with staff shortages.

In other pandemic news in Maine:



The city council of Maine’s largest city on Monday evening rejected a new mandate on indoor masks.

The Portland Press Herald reported instead, the city council approved a resolution sponsored by Mayor Kaye Snyder that called on the city to step up education and awareness.

The board was previously deadlocked on whether to approve a new mask mandate.



New cases of COVID-19 continued to increase in Maine.

The seven-day moving average of daily new cases in Maine has increased over the past two weeks, from 485.29 on September 19 to 610.86 on October 3. However, the number of daily deaths has declined. The seven-day moving average of daily deaths in Maine has not increased over the past two weeks, going from 3.29 on September 19 to 1.71 on October 3.

The AP uses data collected by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure the number of cases and deaths related to epidemics in the United States.

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