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Ada County Jail reporting 239 inmates tested positive for COVID-19 this year

Posted at 9:51 AM, Sep 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-14 11:51:05-04

BOISE, Idaho — The Ada County Jail announced Friday that 239 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. 226 of the inmates who tested positive made it through the quarantine period and no longer need precautions inside the jail or have been released.

The first positive test was on July 28 when a female inmate complained about a loss of taste and smell, according to a news release from the Ada County Sheriff's Office. She was tested immediately for the virus, and the results came back as positive for COVID-19 the next day.

After the positive test, the Ada County Sheriff's Office (ACSO) says jail staff moved her to the Health Services Unit, issued masks to all inmates in that dorm and restricted their movement in the jail. All inmates in the dorm were tested, as well as two male inmates from other areas in the jail who reported symptoms. Those tests came back in late July with a total of four positives, including one for a male inmate who lived in a different dorm.

That led to a series of tests and re-tests for inmates in several different housing areas of the jail over the last several weeks. The latest count from ASCO, as of September 10, is 239 total positive cases.

ACSO said in the release that all inmates in the jail have been provided with face coverings, which they are supposed to wear at all times unless they are in their bunks. The jail is working with Central District Health on the response, and it appears the majority of cases were asymptomatic or showing mild symptoms.

Every jail deputy and employee gets a COVID health screening before they go into the jail and start their shift. If the deputy (or employee) has a fever or is showing any of the other symptoms, they are sent home before they enter the jail and must get further medical evaluation, according to the news release.

All deputies and employees who work in the jail (including booking, classifications, the closed custody unit, the dorms, health services unit, and video court) are required to wear masks during all interactions with inmates.

Other ACSO staff and visitors (operations, attorneys, cleaning crews, etc) are required to wear facial coverings during all interactions with inmates as well. ACSO says some deputies are allowed to temporarily remove facial coverings so they can communicate clearly with inmates if needed for safety reasons.