Protesters march past the Chesapeake Detention Facility during a Black Lives Matter protest in 2015. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Maryland corrections officials plan to begin vaccinating detainees inside the Chesapeake Detention Facility as part of a court settlement reached in a federal lawsuit that alleged a host of unsanitary conditions there allowed the coronavirus to spread.

The class-action lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore in February, claimed that guards in the pretrial facility of 400 detainees rarely wore masks and that healthy detainees were forced into contaminated cells that had not been sanitized.

Since March 2020, 274 inmates and staff inside the Baltimore facility have tested positive for the virus. Most of those individuals have since recovered, according to the state’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

In a court settlement reached Thursday, the department agreed to begin vaccinating detainees, as well as educating them about the benefits of getting a shot, by May 1.

The department will also implement measures to keep detainees who have tested positive for the virus away from those who haven’t been infected, quarantine detainees who’ve been exposed to someone infected and conduct weekly coronavirus tests in an effort to limit the virus’s spread.

“Staff and residents come out of this facility every day,” said John Fowler, an attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which filed the lawsuit in partnership with the Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner law firm in Washington. “Anything that happens inside the facility affects Baltimore, so this settlement keeps the facility safer and it also keeps Baltimore safer.”

In the settlement agreement, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services did not admit to any wrongdoing.

“Since Day 1 of the pandemic, the department has been committed to the health and safety of its detainees, inmates and employees,” said Mark Vernarelli, a department spokesman, noting that Maryland’s corrections system ranks 37th in the nation in its rate of coronavirus cases.

“The agreement related to the Chesapeake Detention Facility lawsuit reinforces the department’s long-standing commitment to protecting its employees and the incarcerated men and women,” Vernarelli said.

The complaint described multiple instances where the virus was allowed to spread between detainees and the guards monitoring them.

In one case, a woman who was new to the facility was kept in a cell flanked on both sides by cells that contained male detainees who had recently tested positive for the virus.

In another, a male detainee was forced to stay in the same cell with a cellmate who was clearly showing symptoms of infection, including coughing and a fever.

The settlement agreement is set to expire 180 days after Maryland’s state of emergency declaration for the pandemic is lifted.