Russell County Jailer Bobby Dunbar said there are now 31 inmates at Russell County Detention Center who have tested positive for COVID-19.
12 other inmates in the facility have been exposed.
Dunbar said one staff member has tested positive, but that staff member was in contact with someone else outside the facility who tested positive, so it isn’t certain that the staff member contracted the virus inside the jail. That staff member is isolated at home, Dunbar said.
Dunbar said the jail has undergone extensive cleaning by an outside contractor and he plans to continue that every two weeks for the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, the jail is still not bringing in any new inmates, as individuals arrested locally are currently being lodged in the Pulaski County Detention Center. Dunbar said that he hopes in 2-4 weeks, the situation is more manageable so that the jail can begin taking new inmates again.
“That’s pretty much what every jailer that I’ve talked to tells me,” Dunbar said. “We just want to be sure it’s safe to do so before we do that.”
Dunbar also told WJRS News that he wanted to clarify the procedures utilized by the jail for taking in new inmates.
New inmates go through Phase 1, which is a 72-hour holding cell. Then, if the inmate doesn’t exhibit any symptoms, they move to Phase 2, which is a designated quarantine cell. If no symptoms present by then, they’re moved into Phase 3, which is general population.
Jail staff are also utilizing PPE, specifically when they are within six feet of inmates. This includes masks, shields, and gloves. Staff that are in contact with inmates who have tested positive or have been exposed also wear gowns and booties when they have contact with those inmates. He said staff are continuing to be monitored through routine things like temperature checks.
Dunbar said RCDC is in regular communication with the health department and consulting them for best practices.
“They’ve told us we’re doing a tremendous job,” Dunbar said.
Dunbar specifically said he is thankful for the RCDC staff and their hard work during this difficult time.