6 Cuyahoga County Jail inmates test positive for COVID-19

Posted at 9:28 AM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-03 19:27:19-04

CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish has confirmed that six county jail inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, with two more under suspicion for having the virus.

All six inmates were all in the same housing pod and were moved to another area for isolation on Thursday night after tests came back positive, according to the county.

"They're being medically cared for," said Budish. "None are critical."

Jail officials are working to see if those inmates with the virus had contact or movement with other inmates.

They're also monitoring corrections officers.

"I don't know about any of the corrections officers as of yet," said Sheriff David Schilling. "We've taken precautions with them. Some of them have been identified that have had contacts with the individuals we're talking about, so we're dealing with that aspect of it as well."

The sheriff did not say which of the jail's housing units was affected citing security concerns.

Budish said, "There is no way the six inmates brought the virus into the jail."

Most of the inmates who tested positive have been in jail since July 2019, with the most recent admission being February 2020.

The county said inmates brought in for booking and jail workers have all been screened for symptoms for several weeks.

A spokesman for the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the union representing jailers said at least 30 employees have been sent home and told to isolate themselves after they failed health screenings when they came to work in recent weeks.

The union said its also filed paperwork asking the county to negotiate hazard pay for jail employees.

The county has reduced the jail population by 50% in an effort to limit the spread of the virus and create room to isolate and treat inmates who contract COVID-19. The current population of the jail as of Friday is 1,021.

“It’s everywhere. It’s impossible to escape,” Budish said, reassuring that jail staff have the proper PPE during contact with inmates.

Court proceedings were cancelled Friday to help limit inmate movements through the Justice Center as medical teams assessed the situation.

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