In response to the fact that a half dozen Guilford County detention officers recently tested positive for coronavirus, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department is implementing a new program that will provide COVID-19 testing for all detention officers, all members of the jail medical staff, as well as every inmate – in both the county jail in Greensboro and the one in High Point.

Testing for jail guards and medical staff in the jails was scheduled to begin Monday, Aug. 17. Tests for inmates are expected to begin later this month.

A Thursday, Aug. 13 press release from the Sheriff’s Department stated that the department’s leadership isn’t aware of any other county in the state that’s offering this kind of extensive testing for guards, medical staff and inmates.

“Under this new program, nasal swab samples will be taken on-site by qualified medical personnel in the two Detention Centers,” the press release states. “The laboratory testing of those samples will then be performed at an independent lab or at our own Guilford County Public Health Department. There will be a prompt turnaround time for the lab results. After the initial round of testing, Detention Officers, Jail Medical Staff, and longer-term inmates, will receive periodic subsequent testing.”

Guilford County is fortunate in that it was one of three counties out of the state’s 100 counties that got direct federal CARES Act funding. That money will fund the new testing program that’s very labor-intensive and that will be a team effort by the Guilford County Health and Human Services Department, county emergency staff, the Sheriff’s Department and Wellpath – the private contractor that provides medical care in the county’s jail system.

As the president of the United States is known to point out, more testing will be followed by a greater number of recorded positive tests, and the Sheriff’s Department is alerting citizens to that fact so the public won’t be too alarmed at what will no doubt be a solid number of COVID-19 cases found among inmates in the coming weeks.