Garfield County Jail dealing with another COVID-19 outbreak
Garfield County jail and county public health officials are working to keep a COVID-19 outbreak at the jail in check.
Last weekend, Garfield County Public Health contact investigators were informed of an outbreak at the jail, Public Health Specialist Carrie Godes confirmed Wednesday.
Garfield County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Walt Stowe said two inmates tested positive for COVID-19 about 10 days ago, followed by more cases over the Thanksgiving holiday and the ensuing weekend.
“We tested all of the inmates in those pods and isolated those who tested positive,” Stowe said. “Of those, only two were showing symptoms.
“We have had no new cases over the last 72 hours, and have less than 20 in quarantine; a much better picture than our first go around,” he said in reference to an outbreak that occurred at the jail in April, in which 23 inmates and 11 staff members tested positive for COVID-19. That outbreak was resolved on May 31, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Stowe said three of the inmates infected during the latest outbreak will reach their 14 day quarantine time soon, and assuming they test negative, will be returned to their normal housing pods.
“The precautionary steps we have taken in house seem to be effective,” he said.
Godes said Public Health continues to work with jail staff on mitigation efforts to contain further spread and to get a more accurate number of those impacted. The cases at the jail have not yet been reported as an official outbreak on the CDPHE website until that number is known.
Godes noted that correctional facility inmates are particularly susceptible to COVID-19 outbreaks due to people living in close proximity to one another.
“Frequent inmate turnover also makes vaccination efforts difficult,” she said. “The health department has held several vaccination clinics at the jail and is working to set up monthly vaccination clinics for inmates.”
Stowe also acknowledged the difficulty of vaccinating and testing jail inmates, since many are in and out of the facility within a day or two.
After the pandemic began in spring 2020, the jail also attempted to reduce the number of inmates it would take in, allowing many of those charged with lesser municipal-level offenses to be booked and released on personal recognizance bonds.
News of the latest outbreak comes as Garfield County’s COVID-19 case count inches back up following the holiday.
As of Thursday, the county had a seven-day case count of 200, including 23 cases reported on Thursday alone. That was compared to 117 for the stretch from Nov. 19-25, and a daily case count of 18 on Nov. 26.
The county’s seven-day incidence rate has also gone back up to 346.7 cases per 100,000 people, with a COVID-19 test positivity rate of 11.6%. The county reported two new deaths this week as a result of complications from COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 69 since the pandemic began.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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