Six positive COVID-19 cases at Piedmont Regional Jail

Published 6:25 pm Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Piedmont Regional Jail Superintendent Jim Davis said the jail has multiple people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Jim Davis

Davis provided an update Tuesday, April 28, noting five inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, one has now been released from quarantine and two have pending test results. One staff member has tested positive, and two have pending test results.

“We will have the entire (jail) sanitized this week and every week until we are satisfied with the reduction of the virus, and the jail staff will continue to sanitize the jail in between the commercial treatment,” Davis said Tuesday. “Today we are cleaning all of our HVAC units and replacing the air filters. We are trying to prevent the virus from spreading.”

Davis previously noted the local health department has been involved and will be assisting the jail in any form of officer or inmate testing and care.

“This virus is a medical issue, and they need to be the major players in the treatment of the inmates,” he said of area health department officials. “We are following their directions in this matter, unless it becomes a security issue.”

As far as the scope of testing of staff and inmates, the jail’s medical department is working with the health department to ascertain the need at this time, he stated April 22. On Monday, April 27, he elaborated on the scope of testing at the jail.

“The health department is recommending that testing not be done on all employees/inmates unless they are symptomatic,” he said. “The staff that is asymptomatic with significant exposure are to wear masks. If they become positive, they are to still wear a mask. Our medical department is following the CDC guidelines and does not recommend mass testing.”

Davis emphasized April 22 that he and his staff are exploring totally new territory for jails in terms of how they operate in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it changes daily as they learn how to better handle the situation.

“When an inmate is quarantined, they are secured in a single cell in a designated housing unit just for this purpose,” he said. “The only other inmates in this housing unit are also being quarantined for the same reason. Any officer or medical personnel will be dressed in the complete (personal protective equipment) PPE when dealing directly with the inmate.”

Upon leaving the area, the PPE will be removed and considered a biohazard item, he noted.

“The inmate will be fed on disposable items and allowed the appropriate hygiene items and showers,” he continued. “The inmate will remain in this status for 14 days and then again be tested prior to being released to the general population. Medical will be reviewing the condition on a regular basis as medically required.”

Davis said April 22 that all staff is required to wear the appropriate protective masks at all times within the secure area of the jail, and they are reminded of the precautions to protect themselves and others. Non-essential personnel are asked not to enter the secure area of the jail.

“Today we received the appropriate masks, and they will be distributed to the entire jail population,” he said April 22.