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About half of people incarcerated at Valley Street Jail tested positive for COVID-19

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New Hampshire Public Radio

The Hillsborough County jail has its largest COVID outbreak among incarcerated people since the pandemic began.

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According to state data released on Thursday, there are 120 positive cases associated with the outbreak at the jail, in addition to six cases among staff.

The facility, known as Valley Street Jail, is the state’s largest county jail. Last month, it held about 250 people, most of whom are now in quarantine status as a result of the outbreak.

Valley Street Jail saw a significant outbreak last December and January, after failing to follow basic COVID mitigation protocols. In that outbreak, 108 incarcerated people and about 42 staff tested positive.

The county commissioners tasked with overseeing the jail have come under scrutiny for giving the jail high marks despite its lax health and safety measures, and for not helping the jail to update its phone system to improve client-attorney communication.

In reports shared this month, jail Superintendent Willie Scurry said the jail offered the COVID vaccine a few weeks ago, after not making it available for months. But only 12 incarcerated people chose to get it.

That leaves the majority of the incarcerated population there still unvaccinated. COVID vaccination rates remain low in other local jails as well.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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