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Four inmates test positive for COVID-19 at local jail

Coronavirus

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East Idaho News file photo

POCATELLO (KPVI)– Earlier this year, the Bannock County Jail starting implementing new safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But it wasn’t until Wednesday that they confirmed there first cases of the virus at the jail.

“Everyone of us working here understood it wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when,” Bannock County Sheriff Tony Manu says.

During a Thursday morning news conference, Manu explained that several inmates in the same pod had recently become symptomatic, and they were segregated and tested.

The six symptomatic inmates were tested early this week and Wednesday the results came in. Four inmates were positive, one was negative, and one test is still pending.

“We are in touch with the health department here in Pocatello to go forward with testing the rest of the jail which was recommended by the health department as well as the staff here,” says Darah Grogan, the nursing director for Ivy Medical, which did the testing.

All 235 inmates have now been tested and all staff members are being tested as they rotate through their shifts. Those results will be in by next week.

“Of course, we all know there isn’t a treatment for COVID, it’s symptom management,” Grogan says. “So, we’ve been managing symptoms.”

To help manage symptoms and prevent further spread through the jail inmates have been given easier access to pain killers, all inmates have masks and hand sanitizer is available throughout the jail. Pods are disinfected daily.

“Our priority is the safety of the inmates and staff,” Manu says.

Around 10 more inmates from the same pod as those who tested positive for COVID-19 are now showing symptoms as well. They, along with all the inmates, have been tested and results are pending.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in jails and prisons are not considered “active cases” in a health department’s official count due to inmates’ separation from the general public.

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