Saturday evening update: One more staffer has tested positive for COVID-19 bringing the total to 8 staffers and 15 inmates with positive cases.
With 15 inmates and seven staffers now testing positive for COVID-19 — up from four in recent days, the Floyd County Jail is implementing the Code Red Phase of its Coronavirus Pandemic Preparedness Plan. The intent, says Sheriff Tim Burkhalter, is to minimize the spread of the coronavirus within the facility. More tests of inmates and staff are pending.
“The safety and security of our staff, inmates in our care, and the community as a whole is paramount,” says Burkhalter in a Thursday evening media release.
Some of the extra precautions include:
- Limiting inmate movements within and outside the facility and temporarily suspending some of our nonessential inmate work details.
- Additionally, we will restrict inmate boarding from other counties but will continue accepting new arrestees from local agencies.
- Jail officers are utilizing appropriate personal protective equipment as they perform their duties within the facility such as masks, gloves, gowns, and face shields or goggles.
- Inmates with a positive COVID test or who are pending test results are receiving medical care and will remain in quarantine or isolation until they produce a negative test and have been symptom free in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
- The agency is working closely with the state Department of Public Health, whichhas been onsite administering tests to inmates and staff. They will return in approximately 10 days to provide additional testing.
- Family members and friends are asked to please refrain from contacting the jail as we are unable to share any personal inmate medical information with the general public because of HIPPA regulations. However, they will be notified of their test results and can share this information with you as they deem necessary.
- Fingerprinting services and background checks for the general public will continue in the Administrative Lobby. Sex offenders should continue to report as required by law for registration purposes. Onsite video visitation for probation, parole and attorneys remains available.
- However, the general public will continue to be restricted to remote video visitation at this time.
Bartow County’s problems with coronavirus took another turn Wednesday as Sheriff Clark Millsap announced the 500-inmate center was under quarantine.
The agency reports multiple cases of the virus, enough to convince the sheriff to additional steps to protect both corrections officers and the inmates.
“About 30” inmates have tested positive so far, according to Logan Boss of the Northwest District office of the Georgia Department of Public Health, adding, “We expect more.”
Millsap’s office issued a media release Wednesday afternoon announcing the quarantine. It reads, in part:
“In response to some of the jail inmates coming back with positive COVID-19 tests, we are quarantining the entire jail population effective today, Oct. 14. Even though these that have tested positive have been largely asymptomatic (not having bad symptoms like low oxygen levels, etc.), we think it is prudent to quarantine to prevent further spread.
“You will still be able to do video visitation, phone calls, emails, etc., with the folks in custody.”
The full release is below and goes into social media issues regarding the situation.
Beginning in April, most jails in Northwest Georgia have reported cases of coronavirus among inmates but not in this volume. At the start of the pandemic, local sheriffs expanded safety protocols to protect the jail populations as well as corrections offices.
Bartow County was the site of one of the state’s first “super spreader” events, attributed to a farewell service for the choir director at The Church at Liberty Square on March 1. Several members of the congregation died and others were hospitalized in Bartow, Floyd and other counties. Bartow’s long-term healthcare facilities also have been hard hit by the virus with 44 of the county’s 91 deaths since March involving residents of four such campuses.
On Tuesday, the state Department of Public Health included Bartow County on the list of “high transmission” counties of the virus. Chattooga County also was on the list and Floyd County just came off it.
Over the past two weeks, 253 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Bartow County including 41 new cases Wednesday. In all, 3,219 of Bartow’s nearly 111,000 residents have tested positive for the virus since March. In the region, that’s second only to Floyd County with 3,500 cases to date among nearly 100,000 residents.
On Monday, Cass Middle School in the Bartow system “moved from a green phase to a yellow phase this afternoon based on current COVID-19 data tracked hour-by-hour through the Bartow County School System and Department of Public Health. Ten COVID-19 positive cases have been identified, which affects just over 1% of the in-person school population. As a result of this change, lunchroom procedures will be modified, and no visitors will be allowed beyond the front office at Cass Middle School.”
That report came six days after Woodland High School moved from a green phase to a yellow phase. Thirteen COVID-19 positive cases have been identified, which affects just over 1% of the in-person school population.
The Woodland Wildcats have had three consecutive football games delay because fo COVID-19.
A developing story out of Bartow County. We’ll have more this afternoon. The jail has a capacity of 500 inmates; we’re trying to find the current inmate population. The staff is 60 to 70 corrections officers.