The Cuyahoga County Board of Health holds press conference updating citizens on the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.
Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish opened the Friday county briefing by saying that the county jail has had six inmates test positive for COVID-19 and two additional inmates are under suspicion of having COVID-19.
The county jail has had six inmates test positive for COVID-19 and two additional inmates are under suspicion of having COVID-19.
“We’re prepared to handle this. We are prepared to handle this. We have a plan in place. These inmates were and are all in one pod. They’re being medically cared for none are critical and they are quarantined in place,” said Budish. He said they haven’t allowed in-person visitation and that every employee and inmate is screened for COVID-19 upon entering the jail.
He went on to say the county has reduced its jail population by nearly 50 percent, to 1,021 inmates, in an effort to reduce risk and create space for isolation and quarantine.
Budish described multiple tabletop exercises that MetroHealth and the county have done over the past few weeks. He said that jail staff currently has appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and the county is trying to buy more. He said before these jail cases were confirmed the county had delivered 30,000 gloves and 10,000 surgical masks to the jail. When asked if that was enough PPE Budish said that the county is constantly reaching out for more and has received donations. “I think we’ve done very well with PPE given the circumstances that everybody’s short around the world we need more we’ll continue to purchase – I’ve authorized our team basically to buy what they need.”
COVID-19 is everywhere. It’s everywhere it’s impossible to escape this terrible disease,” said Budish.
Dr. Julia Bruner, a doctor at MetroHealth and the medical director of the Cuyahoga County jail, then told the briefing that on the evening of Thursday, April 2 she was notified about several people who live in the same space reported being symptomatic. She said staff put surgical masks on those people and isolated them from the rest of the population for evaluation and testing, and in the middle of the night the tests came back positive for COVID-19.
“We knew this was going to happen because it’s a community-related issue, it’s a national, it’s a worldwide issue and so we were planning and moving forward and the efforts that took place through March in relation to reducing the volume of people in the jail have allowed us to actually implement many of our plans and to reduce the risk of transmission across this space,” said Bruner.
Responding to a question about if the people who have tested positive have been in the same place, Bruner said that the jail is working through the process of tracing movement, and said that every prisoner who has tested positive has been behind bars since at least the middle of February and they’re tracing to see if there was any movement in the days in which the inmates may have been contagious.
Every prisoner who has tested positive has been behind bars since at least the middle of February.
Bruner said as far as tracing contacts for corrections officers the county doesn’t have an estimate as to how many people may have had close contact, which is defined as “direct contact with an individual who’s known to be infected for at least a minimum of 10 minutes within a six feet distance or they’re exposed to respiratory droplets.”
In response to a question about what someone from the county would say to folks who have loved ones who are incarcerated, Cuyahoga County Board of Health commissioner Terry Allan reiterated the county’s plans and practice. The Cuyahoga County Sheriff, David Schilling, would not release which pod the inmates who tested positive lived in.
The Cuyahoga County Sheriff, David Schilling, would not release which pod the inmates who tested positive lived in.
The sheriff said that as a result of the infections some arraignments for the county and the municipal Cleveland court have been postponed but he said that they plan to do Saturday arraignments on April 4.