1st Fulton County Jail inmate tests positive for COVID-19

A corrections officer looks in a jail cell during a tour of the Fulton County Jail on Monday, December 9, 2019, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage/Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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A corrections officer looks in a jail cell during a tour of the Fulton County Jail on Monday, December 9, 2019, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage/Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

An inmate at the Fulton County Jail has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, officials confirmed Monday morning.

The inmate, a man in his 30s, is in a local hospital, according to Fulton sheriff’s office spokeswoman Tracy Flanagan. He had been receiving treatment for a chronic illness “that may have rendered him more susceptible to the virus,” she said.

RELATED: As deaths rise, Fulton, Atlanta jails watch for coronavirus

The inmate is the first within the jail to test positive for COVID-19. Jail staff is retracing the man’s movements to find anyone who might have come into contact with him before he was diagnosed.

ExploreAJC comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

“Other inmates in the area have not shown signs of the virus and are on lockdown at this time for their safety,” Flanagan said. “The floor where the ill inmate was housed has been sanitized. The jail always follows a strict cleaning regimen and that was enhanced after the outbreak of COVID-19.”

The confirmation of the case comes days after the jail began releasing detainees charged with non-violent offenses to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through the jail.

RELATED: 'No extra soap': Georgia inmates say prisons not ready for COVID-19

Thirty people have been released from the jail since Friday, Flanagan said.

“These were inmates with release dates whose files were evaluated by jail staff to determine whether the defendants were eligible to get out of jail early,” she said.

The spread of COVID-19 in jails and prisons has been a topic of discussion and concern across Georgia. The matter came up during a Fulton Board of Commissioners meeting, AJC.com previously reported.

“To me,” Commissioner Marvin Arrington Jr. said, “our jail has to be one of our top priorities … If we do not immediately get a hold of (the virus with) those people in close confinement in jail, we’ll be doing ourselves and our county a disservice.”

The Southern Center for Human Rights also urged corrections officials to re-evaluate precautionary measures at correctional facilities to prevent the spread of the disease.

MORE: Courts, prisons grapple with potential coronavirus spread

“Georgia’s prisons house large numbers of elderly people and people with complex medical conditions,” a letter from the Southern Center said. “If COVID-19 gains a foothold in Georgia’s prisons, there is a risk of widespread infection and death.”

Previously, the Georgia Department of Corrections reported three inmates at another facility tested positive for COVID-19.

MORE: 3 Georgia prison inmates test positive for COVID-19, others monitored

The incarcerated men are in Lee State Prison, a 762-unit medium-level detention center in southwest Georgia’s Lee County, according to the department. All three have been hospitalized since last week.

In other news: 

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The numbers released at noon Sunday are up from 555 cases and 20 cases Saturday at 7 p.m.