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More Monroe County Jail inmates test positive for COVID-19

Capt. James McGowan with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office
provided by Sergeant Matthew Bottone
Capt. James McGowan with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office

Monroe County Jail is working to get a COVID-19 outbreak under control as at least 18 inmates have tested positive for coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, the sheriff's office said 15 inmates and 18 jail staff tested positive for the coronavirus.

Last week, eight inmates who tested positive for coronavirus were quarantined in two housing units. Now they have been moved to one unit along with inmates who are presumed positive, and inmates who are symptomatic. All others are isolated in separate housing units.

Once admitted to the jail, inmates are quarantined for 14 days. Officers are screened before their shifts, but are not required to get tested unless they came into contact with someone known to have the virus.

“It’s so elusive,” said Capt. James McGowan with the Monroe County Sheriff’s office. “It’s why it’s so hard to control this because it’s so hard to track it down. And that’s due to the fact that people can be asymptomatic and still spread it.”

McGowan said that while officials do not know where the spread originated, the inmates who tested positive came from three different housing units.

The nearly 700 inmates at the jail will now have their temperature checked every day and be screened for symptoms. While social visits are suspended, professional visits, like meetings with lawyers or parole officers, will continue with a no-contact policy. Inmates will now be able to make two free calls each week, up from one free call last week.

“It got in here somehow and we’re doing the best we can right now to ride it out and to get this out in the next few weeks so that it’s over,” said McGowan.

Noelle E. C. Evans is WXXI's Murrow Award-winning Education reporter/producer.
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