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Lawsuit over Department of Correction’s handling of COVID-19 will proceed

ST. PAUL — A Ramsey County judge has ruled a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota can proceed against the Minnesota Department of Corrections over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Judge Sara Grewing ruled this week that all Minnesota inmates could be included in a class-action suit, and that Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm can be added as defendants.

The lawsuit alleges that just one-fifth of Minnesota’s approximately 7,600 inmates have been fully vaccinated. Grewing will later decide whether or not the state’s inmate vaccination effort violated state law.

“At this point in the fight against COVID-19, it is universally accepted that people working and living together are at exponentially heightened risk for contracting COVID-19,” Grewing said.

Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell says all inmates will be vaccinated by April 9.