CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — A group of 11 inmates of the Jackson County Jail have been quarantined after most of them tested positive for COVID-19, the Sheriff's Office announced on Thursday evening.
The Sheriff's Office said that jail administrators were informed on Monday that several inmates who share a housing unit were experiencing symptoms consistent with the coronavirus. Medical staff at the jail offered to test all 11 inmates, ten of whom opted to receive the test.
By Wednesday, jail staff learned that all ten samples were positive for COVID-19. The Sheriff's Office and medical staff "immediately implemented the established additional protocols" to limit spread of the virus.
All 11 of the inmates in the unit are either confirmed or presumed positive for the virus, and have been quarantined within their unit. The Sheriff's Office said that they are being monitored by medical staff multiple times each day.
"At this point all of the individuals exhibit only minor symptoms which can be adequately treated within the facility," the agency said.
Each of the inmates had been in custody for at least 23 days at the time that they were tested.
According to the Sheriff's Office, all 11 of the inmates are awaiting trial on charges for "serious person crimes" — ranging from sex abuse, rape, and federal holds — making it unsafe to release them back into the community.
"We must consider the safety of the community when decisions are made as to who is released from jail," the agency said.
Now jail staff are working on contact tracing within the facility, attempting to track down the source of spread and reduce the possibility of more cases. As of Thursday, the source of infection had not been identified.
The Jackson County Sheriff's Office said at the beginning of January that it had yet to see a confirmed case of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, in spite of cases among the Sheriff's Office staff.