Inmates quarantined after COVID found in jail

Three inmates and a detention officer have tested positive for COVID-19, the sheriff’s office said Wednesday (today).

The COVID-19 positive inmates presented with mild symptoms such as a headache, a stuffy nose, and a low grade fever, Sheriff Jody Greene said in a press release.

“The entire pod that these inmates were housed in has been placed in quarantine,” the release said. “The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office has followed CDC guidelines for testing inmates and staff.  At this time, we have no symptomatic inmates.”

One Columbus County Sheriff’s Office Detention Officer has also returned a positive COVID-19 result, Greene said.  No other detention officers have tested positive. A contract nurse and a Division of Prisons inmate who was temporarily housed at the jail have been confirmed with the virus.  

Columbus County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center began implementing precautionary measures for COVID-19 in January, Greene said. A more thorough medical screening process for incoming inmates was implemented, and temperature monitoring was implemented for anyone entering the Detention Center.  

New intake imates are placed in 14 day quarantine before they are entered into general population.  In March, the Detention Center lobby was closed to the public, with the exception of the Magistrate’s Office.  Several hand sanitation stations were installed throughout the Detention Center, including a stand-alone hand washing station. Greene said that further steps including a new rule that inmates may only receive books mailed directly from a vendor.

In April, air scrubbers were installed.  The air scrubbers are attached to the ductwork of a HVAC system, and  remove air pollution, surface contaminants, dander, and odors, while providing a cleaner, healthier environment.  Ultra-violet (UV) air sanitizers were also installed.  UV air sanitizers kill germs at the molecular level.  In addition, an outside agency was brought in to disinfect the Detention Center.  

Even after Gov. Roy Cooper relaxed some restrictions and moved the state into Phase Three, Greene said the Detention Center has made the decision not to relax any COVID-19 restrictions, at this time.  

“We will continue operating the same as we have since the beginning of this pandemic,” he said. 

Columbus County saw the first positive COVID-19 cases in March, and the sheriff’s office immediately began taking steps to prepare. 

“We knew it was inevitable that we would see positive cases.  Captain (Dawn) Battle and the Detention Center staff have kept COVID-19 out of the Detention Center for six months, while cases in the county surpassed 1,400. Battle and the Detention Center staff have done an exceptional job minimizing the impact of the pandemic at the Detention Center.”

Greene said the detention center and CCSO will continue strict measures to prevent further outbreaks.

“Please join us in praying for a quick recovery for the inmates and Detention Officer that tested positive,” he said.

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About Jefferson Weaver 299 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the managing editor of columbuscountynews.com and news director for WTXY radio. He can be reached at 910.632.4965, or by email at jeffersonweaver@columbuscountynews.com.

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