Floyd County Jail inmates, employees test positive for coronavirus

Until last week, the jail had reported no cases

Credit: File art/Stock art

Credit: File art/Stock art

The first wave of the coronavirus missed the Floyd County Jail altogether. But the second wave, which reached the jail last week, has hit hard and spread fast.

Floyd Sheriff Tim Burkhalter announced Thursday that 15 of the jail’s roughly 600 inmates, along with seven employees, have tested positive for COVID-19, with test results pending on a handful of others potentially infected.

That number held steady through Friday, sheriff’s office spokesman Sgt. Anthony Cromer told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, with less than 10 tests still outstanding.

“We are doing everything we can to isolate and control this,” Cromer said

The mini-outbreak triggered the “Code Red Phase” of the jail’s Coronavirus Pandemic Preparedness Plan.

“Some of the extra precautions we are taking include limiting inmate movements within and outside the facility and temporarily suspending some of our nonessential inmate work details,” Burkhalter posted on the sheriff’s office Facebook page. “Additionally, we will restrict inmate boarding from other counties, but will continue accepting new arrestees from local agencies.”

Until last week, the jail had reported no positive cases of COVID-19. Unlike many jails and correctional facilities in the state, Floyd County enacted several safety measures in anticipation of the pandemic. Starting in April, masks were mandated for all visitors, inmates and staff.

The first positive tests came back last Friday. The two inmates who were infected were moved to the medical isolation block. Six others are quarantined, awaiting tests.

Cromer said none of those infected have required hospitalization. And while the rash of cases caused concern, there was a sense of inevitability, he said, despite the precautions taken

COVID-19 has maintained a steady presence in Georgia’s prisons and jails. As of Thursday there were 1,966 cases reported in the state’s prisons, according to a database maintained by The Marshall Project and The Associated Press. Since March there have been outbreaks at facilities including Pulaski State Women’s Prison, Lee State Prison and the Clayton County jail.

Earlier this month, Bartow County, located about 25 miles east of the Floyd jail, experienced its own outbreak that led officials to quarantine all 683 inmates. More than 30 inmates had contracted COVID-19, according to public health officials.