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‘At least’ 11 inmates test positive for COVID-19 at Craighead County Jail

Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 6:29 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - At least 11 inmates at the Craighead County Jail have tested positive for the virus, per the Craighead County Sheriff’s Office.

An inmate tested positive Thursday afternoon. The person was in a unit with around 25 other inmates. After conducting rapid tests Friday, an additional 10 tested positive.

This is the first known case of COVID-19 at the jail in “at least several weeks,” according to the Craighead County Sheriff’s Office.

Chief Deputy Justin Rolland has been in conversations with the nurses on hand and with the jail administrator about the next steps to take. He says they are beginning the quarantine process for those who tested positive while making sure this doesn’t spread throughout the rest of the jail.

“We understand upfront that it’s always the possibility that we’re going to have more positive tests and we’re going to have maybe have a hospitalization or something,” Rolland said. “We’re going to do our best that we can to combat it.”

Rolland said they are still implementing a mask mandate inside the jail, which is one thing he says they haven’t lifted since the pandemic started while offering vaccines to all inmates and staff.

Rolland added the jail is implementing more restrictions after loosening some in the past few weeks.

The vaccination rate among inmates is at about 35-to-40 percent, and at 30 percent for the staff. When it comes to the inmates who tested positive, Rolland couldn’t say if they were vaccinated.

Rolland says he isn’t surprised at the positive tests with the rise in COVID cases across the state and the county... but he is confident that the protocols in place will help to prevent the spread of the virus within the jail.

“I think we’ve got a bit more of an understanding about it,” Rolland said. “We never lifted our mask protocol in the jail... we’ve also implemented our own in-house protocol, as far as quarantines are concerned. In the beginning, where we scrambled on where to put inmates and how a quarantine would work, this year, I think we’ve got a better understanding of it and a better handle on it.”

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