CONNECTICUT (WTNH) — As loved ones of low-level inmates protested outside the Governor’s Residence on Monday, the Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) announced that more staff and offenders tested positive for coronavirus.

Officials said 78 inmates were tested, and 21 of those tests came back positive. Eight of those offenders are housed at Willard-Cybulski Correctional Institution. 

The facility was placed on lockdown on April 1 after five inmates tested positive for COVID-19.

“To further limit the spread of the virus, and for the protection of the offender population, the Department of Correction has placed the entire Willard-Cybulski facility on lockdown status effective immediately,” officials said in a statement. “While on lockdown, offenders will have the opportunity for daily showers and to place phone calls.”

Thirty-two staff members have also tested positive for the virus. Eight of them were at Hartford Correctional Center. 

Since March, more than 700 low-level offenders have been released. Department of Correction Commissioner Rollin Cook said that’s the most inmates released in the state’s history.

“As of this afternoon, our overall population count has dropped by 727 as of the first March at the onset of COVID-19,” Cook said.

Governor Ned Lamont has been vocal about separating inmates for their safety and getting personal protective equipment (PPE) to prisons and jails.

“We did get asked a lot about PPE and first responders, especially the correction officers…” Lamont said. “The good news is anybody that tested positive in a correctional facility is in separate quarters, that means the PPE can go a lot further. You’re either in a coed facility or a non-covered facility.”

DOC said extra steps are being taken to protect offenders.

“Offenders continue to have access to health care,” a statement on the website read. “All fees associated with health services appointments have been suspended to ensure ample treatment is provided at no cost to offenders. Operational procedures have been modified to limit movement within the facility without compromising the daily needs of the offenders.”

Officials said they’re working to clean facilities to stop the spread.

In the meantime, guards are on high alert after an uptick in incidents at the Carl Robinson Correctional Institute.

On Saturday around 1 p.m., a fight broke out between three inmates and a responding correctional officer was intentionally punched in the face, according to reports. The officer was treated at a nearby hospital.

More than 100 inmates were transferred due to the outbreak.

Loved ones and protestors said they’re pushing for the release of more inmates to protect them from becoming ill.

“People actually often develop respiratory illnesses because of incarceration, and that’s a huge risk factor for dying from coronavirus,” Jeannie Fu, Connecticut Bail Fund told News 8 in an interview. “And so because of all these reasons, we can’t be saying only for some people we need to free everyone.”