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Over 40 COVID-19 cases reported at Warren County Jail

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Visitation has been suspended until further notice at the Warren County Jail due to a COVID-19 spike that has seen over 40 percent of inmates and 10 staff test positive for the virus.

Nearly half of the current population of the Warren County Jail has tested positive for COVID-19.

Most recent data available from the jail on Tuesday indicates that 45 of 106 inmates had tested positive. None have been hospitalized and no fatalities have resulted from these cases.

Warden Jon Collins said the first staff positive was on Sept. 27 and that the first inmate positive was a couple days before that.

“We’ve followed recommendations by the DOC (Department of Corrections), the director of Public Safety and our infectious disease specialist,” Collins said. “I feel our staff and medical department have done a fantastic job to mitigate the spread.

Currently, according to Collins, one female and two male housing units have been designated “red,” indicating positive tests. One each are in “yellow” for possible exposure while two male housing units are currently identified as “green,” meaning that the inmates there tested negative and have not exhibited any symptoms.

He said there is also a quarantine unit at this time for new intakes into the jail.

“We test all inmates periodically in accordance to the specified time frame and will continue to do so as needed to stay on top of these efforts,” Jonie Smitley, the county’s infectious disease nurse explained.

She said 10 staff have tested positive, are currently isolated at home and are “all doing well.”

“Our staff has worked countless hours,” Collins added. “They, along with their families, have made many sacrifices during this difficult time.”

Smitley said the county is openly discussing the situation because “we want to do what we can to help alleviate fears that the unknown can cause.”

“We have implemented measures so that specific staff, who have been trained, are providing care for those individuals in isolation,” she explained. “They are taking great measures to follow guidelines, such as correctly donning and doffing personal protective equipment and using dedicated supplies… to help stop the spread of this disease.”

Additional personnel are assisting where needed, the facility has been “thoroughly disinfected” and “we test all inmates periodically in accordance to the specified time frame and will continue to do so as needed to stay on top of these efforts.

“We want to assure our community that every inmate is being provided the best care that we have to offer in getting them tested, isolating, or quarantining as necessary and providing or getting appropriate support for anyone who is ill,” she added.

“This is definitely something we can handle and are handling it well.”

During Wednesday’s meeting, the county commissioners approved hazard pay for the corrections officers and sheriff’s deputies working directly with inmates who have tested positive.

“(We) appreciate the employees going into the building and working so diligently,” Commissioner Ben Kafferlin said.

Eggleston said the hazard pay is a “sign of our appreciation.

“(I) hope we can continue to work to mitigate the situation in the jail (and) hopefully get through it together.”

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