GREENSBORO — The Guilford County Sheriff's Office plans to start testing all detention officers, jail medical staff and inmates at its jails in Greensboro and High Point for COVID-19.
Sheriff Danny Rogers announced the new testing program Thursday, two days after the sheriff's office reported that five detention officers had earlier tested positive for the highly contagious respiratory illness but had since returned to work.
Shannon Serrin, a paralegal with the sheriff's office, originally shared the information on the positive tests after the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services erroneously reported on Tuesday that five Guilford County Detention Center inmates had tested positive. No inmates have tested positive, the sheriff's office said.
The sheriff's office said Thursday in a news release that it now has had six officers test positive, five in July and one this month. All six contracted the virus outside of the jails, the sheriff's office said.
Of those six officers, three were assigned to duties in the Greensboro jail, one was assigned to part-time duties at the High Point jail and two were assigned to non-jail duties, according to the sheriff's office. They all received paid leave and were sent home to quarantine.
Through contact-tracing, the health department identified other inmates and sheriff's employees who might have been exposed to the infected detention officers. Those people were tested and were negative for the virus, the sheriff's office said.
As a precaution, the sheriff's office said all detention officers are required to wear masks on duty and all inmates at the Greensboro jail have one surgical mask and one washable cloth mask. In High Point, new inmates are given a surgical mask and all others will soon receive two washable masks.
The sheriff's office said it is also beginning a new testing program with money from the federal CARES ACT.
Testing for detention officers and medical staff begins Monday and testing for inmates begins a week later, on Aug. 31. The sheriff's office said it is the only one in the state with this testing program.
Under the program, nasal swab samples will be taken on-site by medical personnel in both detention centers. The laboratory testing of the samples will be done at an independent lab or at Guilford County Public Health Department, the sheriff's office said. Turnaround time is expected to be quick.
The sheriff's office plans to conduct periodic testing after the initial round.
Anyone with questions can contact Capt. Daryl Loftis at 336-641-5964 or Sheriff’s Attorney Jim Secor at 336-641-3161.
Contact Jamie Biggs at 336-373-4476 and follow @JamieBiggsNR on Twitter.
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