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UPDATE: Cass County Jail remains on lockdown after inmates, staff tests positive for COVID-19

Published: Nov. 27, 2020 at 12:38 PM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - UPDATE: The Cass County Jail will remain on lockdown after additional staff and inmates have tested positive for COVID-19.

On Nov. 27th, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office was notified of an inmate housed in general population, that tested positive for COVID-19.  This was the first inmate housed in general population with a known positive case of the virus since this pandemic began.  Although there have been several positives cases found during the intake/isolation process, current preventative measures have prohibited any inmates from moving beyond the jails screening, isolation and quarantine phase. Of the previous positive cases at the jail, the inmate was either a known positive when they arrived or were identified as a potential carrier through our screening and isolation process and later tested to confirm.

In all, 260 inmates and 102 staff were tested for the virus as a precaution on Monday. The sheriff’s office says of those tests, 27 inmates and three staff tested positive. 

Officials say the positive results have been tracked to one general population housing unit within the facility, and say the majority of positive inmates are asymptomatic, with a few experiencing mild symptoms that have not required outside medical care.

The jail currently remains on lockdown status as we gain control of these exposures.

ORIGINAL:

Officials announced Friday afternoon the Cass County jail has been placed on lockdown after an inmate tested positive.

Shortly after nine Friday morning, Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner was notified by jail administration that an inmate who had been housed in general population tested positive for COVID-19. As a safety precaution, the jail has been placed on a lockdown to prevent any further spread of the virus.

Cass County Jail protocol states any new arrest must spend their first five days in isolation to monitor for any covid symptoms before being released to the general population.

Jahner says that was done with today’s positive inmate, as they were booked on Nov. 13 and isolated until the 18th.

“This particular person was double bunked with another individual and both of those individuals started to develop some mild symptoms, like just a mild cough,” Jahner said.

Jahner says the cell mate tested negative, and says the positive inmate has since been moved back to an isolation cell with negative airflow.

“They’re doing fine, they’ve just developed some minor symptoms,” he said.

Jahner says all 300 inmates and jail staff will be tested on Monday, and he says hopefully results will come in two or three days to lift the jail’s lockdown.

“Then we can strategically move people around the facility to keep the inmates who do not have the virus safe, keep our staff safe and effectively treat the ones who do have the virus,” Jahner said.

As for the jail’s new inmate protocols, Jahner says he’s still confident they’re working. Jahner says while the guidelines will still be reviewed, there’s not much wiggle room as the jail has ran at or near capacity for the last several weeks.

“If we move that to seven days, we’re going to run out of isolation areas given how many people are coming into the facility every day,” Jahner said.

Sheriff Jahner says as testing efforts ramp up in the state he would like to have some sort of regular testing efforts on both inmates and staff. However, until more tests are available, Jahner says he wants testing to continue to be focused on healthcare workers and long term care facilities.

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