Seven Woodbury County Jail Inmates Test Positive For COVID-19
Seven inmates in the Woodbury County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19 and the county sheriff’s office anticipates seeing more positive cases.
The Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office found the first three COVID-19 cases after 10 inmates who were supposed to be moved into Iowa’s prison system were tested. After three came back positive this past weekend, the Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office isolated them.
Because they’re asymptomatic, the sheriff’s office decided to test all of the inmates housed in the same sections as those three. Then they got enough testing kits for the whole jail population, and tested 144 more inmates. Chief Deputy Tony Wingert said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference that they’re awaiting those results.
“I would be shocked if we didn’t have more,” said Wingert, on potential new positive cases.
And tests for four more inmates came back positive later Tuesday, Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew announced on Twitter.
The recent COVID test results for inmates incarcerated in the @WoodburySheriff Jail is an additional four more positive test results. We anticipate more in the next days we are just awaiting results of all inmates tested. @ktivnews @scj @kcautv @SiouxlandNews @kscj1360— Dave Drew (@SheriffDaveDrew) June 9, 2020
Asked earlier during the news conference if it was inevitable that COVID-19 would enter the jail, Drew said “I thought maybe we survived it.”
“And any time I feel that, then I should know that I shouldn’t feel that,” Drew said. “…Surprised it took this long to get to this point, but here we are.”
Before the pandemic, the Woodbury County Jail typically had a population of around 234 inmates, but law enforcement officials have been keeping the population down.
Chief Deputy Wingert said staff may have to use a bigger section of the jail to isolate inmates if they see more positive cases. He said staff and inmates have been cleaning the jail with an antiviral solution daily, and inmates can request to have their cells cleaned with it. As new arrests come in, they're isolated, nurses take their temperature and ask them several questions related to COVID-19 and possible exposure.
"If they show no signs after a couple of days, they are moved into the general population," Wingert said.
Meanwhile, 87 inmates in the Polk County Jail have COVID-19 as of Tuesday. Lt. Jeff Rullman, a spokesman with the Polk County Sheriff's Office, said when inmates are booked, they're asked a bunch of questions, including some related to COVID-19. If someone says they've been around someone else who has tested positive, or they're showing signs or symptoms themselves, they're tested for COVID-19. They're then put into an area separate from general population.
Rullman said others who are booked in the jail are put into a 14-day holding pattern regardless. They're not released into general population until their test comes back negative or they're not showing signs or symptoms for COVID-19 anymore.
As of Tuesday, seven inmates in the state prison system currently have COVID-19, according to the Iowa Department of Corrections. They are all at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville. Twenty-three inmates have recovered and approximately 1,600 have been tested for COVID-19.