Monday, December 20, 2021

34 People Infected in County Jail COVID Outbreak

Posted By on Mon, Dec 20, 2021 at 11:40 AM

click to enlarge The Humboldt County jail. - FILE
  • File
  • The Humboldt County jail.
The COVID-19 outbreak at the Humboldt County jail has now grown to infect 28 inmates and six correctional officers after a dozen more inmates tested positive for the virus over the weekend.

Humboldt County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Samantha Karges said in an email to the Journal the outbreak remains isolated in a single housing unit but has infected more than half the inmates there. While COVID-positive inmates were initially being transferred into the jail's medical unit to be kept in quarantine, Karges said the outbreak now exceeds the medical unit's capacity and the jail has "created a COVID-19 positive celled unit to allow all inmates to be isolated." She said medical staff is monitoring the converted unit.

All inmates in the affected housing unit continue to be tested daily, she said.

Karges said the first inmate in the unit tested positive Dec. 15 and that the six correctional officers had tested positive for the virus before that date. She said it's unclear if the correctional officer cases are related to the outbreak among inmates.

Prior to the outbreak, Karges said staff were required to test for COVID-19 weekly, while inmates were tested during an initial 10-day quarantine after being booked into the facility. Those who refused testing were required to complete a 14-day quarantine. After the initial intake period, inmates were tested when requested “and/or” symptomatic, while inmates who were symptomatic but refusing a test were moved into isolation in the medical unit.

Local reporter Kym Kemp interviewed several people currently incarcerated in the affected unit over the weekend and reported they told her many inmates do not wear masks in the facility and questioned whether jail staff was acting appropriately to limit the virus' spread. You can read her report here.

It's unclear what percentage of jail staff and inmates have been fully vaccinated, which have been shown to help prevent infections, extreme disease and death. The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors considered mandating vaccinations for county employees in October, but instead decided to require unvaccinated employees to undergo weekly testing for the virus.

Pick up next week's Journal for a more in-depth article about the outbreak.
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Thadeus Greenson

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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