December virus outbreak contained at Lake County jail, officials say

  • Lake County jail officials say they have successfully contained the spread of the virus after a 35-person COVID-19 outbreak in December.

    Lake County jail officials say they have successfully contained the spread of the virus after a 35-person COVID-19 outbreak in December. Doug T. Graham, 2020

 
 
Updated 1/22/2021 7:55 PM

In the weeks since a 35-person COVID-19 outbreak at the Lake County jail, the staff has contained the spread of the virus and driven the number of infected people down to zero, officials said Friday.

Sheriff's Sgt. Christopher Covelli said officials isolated the outbreak in pod 5-North, a section of the jail. On Dec. 20, the office announced that 35 of the pod's 53 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19.

 

During the quarantine, no inmates came in or out of the pod, and only specific jail employees wearing medical-grade PPE were allowed in, Covelli said.

The quarantine was lifted Jan. 12, just over four weeks from when it began Dec. 14. During that period, no employees tested positive for COVID-19, he said. And now there are no inmates or staff members with COVID-19, he added.

The first jail inmate to test positive for COVID-19 was a pregnant woman in her 30s in mid-April. In September, officials reported that after testing about 600 inmates, employees and contractors -- the jail's largest COVID-19 screening effort to date -- three people had tested positive.

Since March, a total of 46 jail staffers and contractors and 66 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, Covelli said.

The current jail population is 499 inmates; the jail has the capacity for 740.

Regular COVID-19 safety precautions at the jail have included an end to communal meals. Instead, inmates eat in their cells. And while inmates are allowed to have their cell doors open during socialization times, they are not allowed to hang out together in common areas, Covelli said.

Inmates are not allowed to have in-person visitors. Instead they may use jail-provided video devices to communicate with friends and family. In-person visits were suspended in December after initially being suspended from March until July 6.

Another safety measure adopted by the jail staff is placing new inmates in a section of the jail dubbed the "quarantine pod" for two weeks.

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