GREENSBORO — After 26 inmates at the Guilford County jail tested positive for COVID-19, officials are quickly working to identify and contain the outbreak.
In a brief virtual meeting with reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Sheriff Danny Rogers said the goal is to get all inmates and staff tested in the coming days in order to “keep everything under control.”
Last week, when three inmates who lived in the same housing pod began showing symptoms of a fever, they were immediately quarantined, monitored and tested, the sheriff's office said.
The results of all three came back positive, leading to the testing of the pod's other prisoners — and 23 were found to be infected with the coronavirus.
Rogers said it's not yet known how the highly contagious respiratory disease managed to enter the jail. But given the staff, workers and vendors coming in and out of the facility, he said "it was bound" to find its way into the jail.
According to the sheriff's office, there is no indication that the COVID-19 exposure has spread beyond the one housing pod.
Rogers said the three prisoners who were symptomatic are doing “a lot better.”
The sheriff's office said it is working with the Guilford County Health Department and Emergency Management department to formulate a plan to quickly test the remainder of the jail population and employees. Plans are also in place to test all inmates and staff at the High Point jail in the near future.
New inmates to the Guilford jail are quarantined for 14 days. If they don't exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, they are placed into housing units. Those get sanitized two times a day.
All employees entering the facility have their temperature checked and inmates and staff are required to wear masks when not in their cells or offices.
Deputy LaKiya Rouse, who worked as a bailiff at the Guilford County Courthouse, died after contracting the disease in October. In December, Master Cpl. Norman Day died from complications related to the coronavirus.
“We’re going to make sure we maintain what we need to do to make sure people are safe and healthy,” Rogers said. “We don’t want to lose anyone. We lost two deputies. Many of our staff have gone through some challenges with COVID-19.
"We don’t take this lightly.”
Contact Jamie Biggs at 336-373-4476 and follow @JamieBiggsNR on Twitter.