AUBURN, Maine (AP) — About 30 inmates at the Androscoggin County Jail held a short-lived hunger strike to demand more testing for the coronavirus, officials in Maine said.

Jail administrator Jeffrey Chute said the inmates refused meals from Monday morning through Tuesday afternoon.

The central issue for inmates was testing for COVID-19, according to the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, a nonprofit working to improve conditions for incarcerated Mainers.

Some inmates feared a lack of social distancing in housing units, lax mask wearing and infrequent tests could lead to an outbreak similar to what happened at the York County Jail, where dozens of inmates became infected, said Joseph Jackson, the coalition’s director.

There have been no confirmed cases at the Androscoggin County Jail.

Prisoners were also upset about the quality of bedding.

The strikers’ issues were resolved and they began eating bag lunches “right away,” Sheriff Eric Samson said Tuesday. The inmates were told mattresses were replaced as needed and they dropped the issue, he said.

In other news related to the virus in Maine.


Another 47 coronavirus cases have been reported in the state, the Maine CDC reported Wednesday.

That brings the total number of coronavirus cases in Maine to 5,816, while the number of deaths was unchanged at 143, officials said. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine was about 34, which is about three more than it was a week ago.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.