Jail administrators were notified late Monday that one of the 78 inmates at the Sullivan County Jail had tested positive for the coronavirus, the first inmate case at the facility.
"We were surprised we've gone this long, but it looks like our safety protocols have been working," said Sullivan County Undersheriff Eric Chaboty. "It's just the disease is so insidious, you can’t avoid it."
Safety protocols, like inmate temperature checks and repeated cleanings throughout the day, are in place. The jail also suspended visitations in March and all staff members and inmates are required to wear masks.
Undersheriff Chaboty says the virus was likely brought into the jail by a corrections officer. Two had tested positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of April and have since been cleared. Two other officers recently tested positive and are currently in quarantine. The infected inmate was tested after exhibiting mild symptoms of the virus.
"His temperature started creeping up, and then he had a couple of the symptoms," said Undersheriff Chaboty. "It's a mild case, but we're not taking any chances."
That inmate is now isolated from the greater population.
"The inmate was then transferred to a cell block that's being used for isolation, so he's not in contact with any of the other inmates here at the jail," said Undersheriff Chaboty.
Using contact tracing, jail administrators isolated the inmates who had come in contact with the infected inmate, and those 20 inmates were tested on Tuesday. The rest of the tests will continue into Thursday.