Something quite amazing has happened at Guilford County’s two jails during the pandemic.
They’ve stayed remarkably free of COVID-19, even though the highly contagious disease has hit other jail and prison populations across the country.
“Our Detention Staff has continued to successfully protect our inmates from COVID-19,” Guilford County Sheriff’s Department Attorney Jim Secor wrote in a Monday, Oct. 12 email.
There have been some scares. After a mass testing event last month, four inmates initially tested positive but the follow up confirmation tests came back negative.
“Because of the potential for false positives,” Secor wrote, “the protocol for such events is to conduct an immediate re-test. We did so, and all 4 of those inmates were re-tested and confirmed as ‘negative.’”
The county jails have also housed two inmates who were transferred to Guilford County from other county jails.
“One of those inmates claims to be positive and the other tested positive (two months ago) in his previous County Jail,” Secor wrote, adding, “We have tested both of those inmates for COVID-19 and are awaiting the results. In the meantime, those two inmates are in medical quarantine.”
Over the summer, there were some positive tests among those who work in the county’s jail system, and, of course, the fear was that massive testing of all the inmates might reveal a problem with the disease. However, in mid-September, the department found that that wasn’t the situation at all. The department tested over 1,000 people but in the end found no COVID-19 cases.
Those findings are in contrast to the findings at many jails and prisons across the country where the virus has been a major problem. Jails and prisons are places where coronavirus can often spread easily because the inmates are constantly indoors, often in close confines – and many people being held in the jails have poor immune systems due to drug abuse, poor nutrition and other factors.
The Sheriff’s Department has implemented several precautionary steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the two jails. Those include social distancing and periodic thorough sanitization of common areas along with plenty of other anti-virus measures.