Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Jan. 20, 2021

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44 Clark County Jail inmates positive for virus

Facility adds third medical isolation area

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

A total of 44 inmates housed at the Clark County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon.

There were no new positive cases among jail staff, according to the jail’s COVID-19 information line. Previously, the jail reported that seven corrections deputies were being quarantined, and two support staff members were tested and quarantined.

On Friday, the number of inmates who had tested positive for COVID-19 was 31, up from 25 on Nov. 23.

Inmates who tested positive have been moved to medical isolation while those who had close contacts with positive cases were quarantined. Jail Chief Ric Bishop said Monday afternoon that a third medical isolation area had been added in the last week.

Bishop is continuing to consult with Clark County Public Health, he said, and is following its directions.

He previously told The Columbian that the jail purchased more COVID-19 testing kits and implemented testing of all inmates before they’re housed with the general population. Bishop added Monday that the jail also temporarily added a second testing machine.

All staff are required to wear N95 masks or higher when working with the inmate population, and the jail has moved the remaining professional visitors to noncontact rooms.

Criminal justice officials have met throughout this year to discuss the jail’s inmate population and steps needed to prevent it from getting the virus.

Earlier this year, general criteria were established for the types of crimes and cases assessed for potential release into pretrial supervision. The criteria includes nonviolent cases, such as drug and property crimes. No cases involving sex offenses are reviewed, and generally, no domestic violence cases meet the criteria.

In mid-March, the facility housed 313 inmates, a low not seen by Bishop since 1985. The jail’s total population fluctuated around 350 inmates for months, but over time, it started to creep up.

According to the jail’s inmate roster, there were 420 inmates housed there Monday.

Bishop and other jail officials have a work session scheduled with the county Wednesday morning to discuss, among other topics, the Jail Work Center’s possible use to spread out the inmate population. The 100-bed, minimum-security facility remains open but has not been used for housing for months.