A dozen inmates at the Whitley County Detention Center are currently being quarantined after a former employee, who worked for a vendor at the facility, tested positive for COVID-19.
“While no other employees from this vendor, deputies or inmates are currently showing any signs or symptoms from this virus, we are actively taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our staff and those who are being detained,” Whitley County Jailer Brian Lawson said in a news release Friday afternoon.
In an interview, Lawson said that the former employee of the vendor last worked at the detention center on June 26, and he became aware of the situation on July 1.
Jail officials have determined that 12 inmates were around the worker, and those inmates are undergoing quarantine through July 10.
Lawson said that he consulted Whitley County Health Department Public Health Director Marcy Rein, who calculated the quarantine period for those inmates.
None of the staff or inmates, who were around the now former employee, have shown any symptoms and they have not been tested for the virus upon recommendation of the health department.
“She (Rein) has advised as long as no one is showing signs or symptoms, there is no need to test. We have quarantined those inmates, who were around or possibly around the worker, who tested positive,” Lawson said.
Rein also advised the jail that as long as other employees weren’t in close proximity, which is within six feet of the former employee, for 10 or 15 minutes at a time, then they are unlikely to contract the virus, Lawson added.
Lawson said jail staff are taking precautions against the virus.
“Everyone has masks available. We are constantly cleaning and disinfecting. We are using the QUAT 256 chemical that kills the coronavirus. We are feeding with Styrofoam trays then disposing of those. Other than that, we are just quarantining pretty much,” he explained.
QUAT 256 also kills influenza and other germs and viruses and is dispensed through a garden like sprayer. The Whitley County School District also started using the chemical this spring for disinfecting purposes.
Lawson noted that both agencies are utilizing the same vendor.
Jail staff are wearing masks anytime they go inside a jail cell, and are trying to cut down on the amount of in-person contact that they have with inmates by utilizing security cameras more when doing visual checks rather than physically going into cells.
“We are really just trying to cut down all the traffic that we can,” Lawson added.