A deputy jailer at the Daviess County Detention Center is in isolation after having tested positive for the coronavirus.
Jailer Art Maglinger said one inmate who was judged to be at high-risk from contact with the deputy jailer has been tested, with negative test results. Two other deputy jailers were also deemed high risk, Maglinger said. One deputy tested negative and the other is awaiting testing, he said.
Officials with the Green River District Health Department informed Maglinger of the positive test result on Wednesday, Maglinger said. The deputy jailer, who was not identified, last worked a shift at the detention center on March 25.
The deputy got tested after developing symptoms similar to coronavirus but had been in self-isolation for some time before then, Maglinger said Friday.
“We don’t have any other staff or inmates who are symptomatic or exhibiting symptoms,” he said.
The jail had a population Friday of 600 inmates. Law enforcement has been citing people to court rather than taking them to jail when possible, and public defenders have filed thousands of motions to get inmates awaiting trial out of jails.
The concern is, if coronavirus gets into county jails, it will quickly sweep through inmate populations, making hundreds severely ill.
The two deputy jailers and the inmate judged to be at highest risk are all in isolation and the deputies are no longer working shifts, Maglinger said.
The deputy who tested positive is doing well, he said.
“I’ve been in almost daily contact with the deputy and I’m receiving positive reports,” Maglinger said. “The deputy is doing better.”
Clay Horton, director for the health department, said officials traced the deputies contacts. The jail has followed all of the health department’s recommendations, Horton said.
“We’ve had close communication with them,” he said.
When asked if additional testing of inmates or jail staff was planned, Horton said those who didn’t have close contact with the deputy were at “lower risk” of contracting the coronavirus, but people everywhere need to be paying attention to whether they develop symptoms indicative of COVID-19.
“Everyone in this community needs to be self-monitoring,” Horton said. People who exhibit signs of illness need to self-isolate for 14 days, and “everyone else should monitor themselves,” he said.
Conducting additional testing on jail inmates and staff that aren’t exhibiting symptoms might result in negative tests for people actually carrying the virus because the virus may not have replicated enough to be detectable, Horton said.
Maglinger said the jail has been limiting inmate movement since March 1. He said previously the jail is regularly cleaning surfaces that people frequently come into contact with, such as door handles.
“We’ve been taking aggressive steps since March 1,” Maglinger said.
Every new inmate receives a medical screening upon arrival, and deputies have their temperature taken when they report for work, he said.
Being short three deputies is a strain on the jail’s staff.
“I’m very thankful, there have been several deputies that have stepped up at this time,” Maglinger said. “... We have to keep the peace (in the jail), but as much as we can, we are trying to practice social distancing” and using protective equipment.
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @JamesMayse