15 women infected with COVID in jail outbreak

There are currently 15 inmates in the DeKalb County Detention Center infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus, all of them female, according to Medical Nurse Manager Shalanne Whited, BSN, RN.

The women are in quarantine for close contact exposure. She reports they are monitored daily and are doing well. Any inmate in this group with an onset of COVID symptoms is tested immediately and removed from the pod if the results are positive. The women remain isolated from the rest of the population per current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). No males have tested positive during the current outbreak.

The facility has an active screening process for inmates presenting to the facility. Whited said anyone identified as symptomatic or close contact exposures are quarantined and tested as indicated. Any positives are treated accordingly.

“We have an active surveillance program for currently housed inmates. Anybody showing symptoms are quarantined and tested. Positive inmates and close contact exposures are offered early outpatient treatment. We are using the latest current COVID treatments available to us which include, but are not limited to, vitamin C, vitamin D3, zinc, and aspirin. These are the same treatments available in the public outpatient setting. Our efforts have allowed us to quickly identify and treat COVID cases in the jail. These efforts have also allowed us to stop any rampant spread throughout the jail,” she said.

The county jail has worked with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) to offer vaccines to the inmates.

“There have been three different COVID vaccine dates at this facility, but unfortunately only a small portion of the population were willing to take part in receiving the vaccine. We will continue to try to provide vaccine to any willing inmates in the future as we can get dates scheduled,” Whited said.

Officers and medical staff have been provided adequate PPE to wear when in contact with quarantined inmates to help decrease the spread of virus to other parts of the jail. Staff have also provided necessary disinfecting of public areas regularly to decrease spread of virus. Also, any employees who present with symptoms are notified to get tested immediately and quarantine per CDC guidelines.

“As everyone knows, there is no absolute way to determine that someone is not infected with the COVID virus. There are asymptomatic carriers and the tests are not 100% accurate. We remain highly vigilant, using the systems we have in place, to keep infection rates low in the jail population. We are working closely with our physician to stay up to date with CDC and FDA guidelines for testing and treatment,” she said.

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