Contact tracing, quarantine for COVID-19 in Lexington jail

The first Fayette County Detention Center inmate to test positive for COVID-19 was booked more than six months ago, and officials are still working to determine how the virus got into the jail.

The first positive case at the jail was reported Tuesday.

As of Thursday, five inmates had tested positive and 86 inmates had been tested so far, jail spokesman Capt. Matthew LeMonds said. The jail will continue testing inmates with guidance from the health department. Ten members of the jail’s staff have also been tested.

In all of Fayette County, there have been 242 positive cases reported since Tuesday by the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department

Officials with the jail and the health department are working with inmates and staff to contact trace in hopes of finding out how the inmates first came into contact with the virus, LeMonds said. There are currently 904 inmates housed in the jail.

Fourteen inmates have been placed in quarantine as a precaution, LeMonds said.

Before new inmates enter the jail, their temperatures are taken and they are assessed by medical staff during intake, LeMonds said. New inmates are also asked questions pertaining to COVID-19.

If incoming inmates give any indication that they have been exposed to the virus or are experiencing symptoms, they are placed in isolation, and any staff interacting with them must wear full protective equipment, LeMonds said.

All incoming inmates who are not showing symptoms are placed in a 14-day quarantine with other new inmates who are also not showing symptoms, LeMonds said. Once the last person in each quarantine group has been in quarantine for 14-days, the group is moved in with the general population.

Transports from the Fayette County jail to other county jails have been put on hold, LeMonds said. Any inmate ordered to be released by the court is being released.

The jail will continue to transport inmates for court-ordered mental health evaluations and court-ordered courtroom appearances, LeMonds said. But most courtroom appearances have been happening virtually since the COVID-19 outbreak began.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak hit the United States in March, the Fayette County jail has had two staff members and two contract workers test positive for COVID-19, LeMonds said.

After the inmates began showing symptoms of COVID-19 this week, several corrections officers who’d worked in the affected unit were tested and are isolated at home while they wait for their results.

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