BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - The Butte County Sheriff's Office confirmed an inmate at the Butte County Jail has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Butte County Sheriff's Office said in a press release Friday, the case involves a person who was recently arrested for serious crimes and booked into the jail. The individual, who was asymptomatic for coronavirus upon arriving at the jail, was screened as part of the jail’s established protocol and later housed within the facility. The individual was housed for two days in a dormitory with 26 other inmates.
On Friday, May 29, the individual complained of shortness of breath. Jail medical staff evaluated the inmate and decided to send the individual to an area hospital. A coronavirus test was administered and came back positive. The individual was admitted to the hospital and is in stable condition, according to the BCSO report.
Deputies said they're working with Butte County Public Health to isolate, monitor, and test the 26 inmates within the affected housing unit over the course of the next 14 days.
Professional cleaners are being brought in to clean the housing unit thoroughly and inmates are being provided appropriate personal protective equipment. Testing and monitoring protocols for BCSO staff members have also been implemented in accordance with CDC guidelines for public safety employees, according to the sheriff's office.
Deputies said that they knew from the start there would be a need to manage COVID-19 cases within the jail and prepared for that eventuality. "The jail’s in-house medical providers are very experienced with managing communicable disease within a custodial environment, including COVID-19 in other correctional facilities outside Butte County," the sheriff's office said in a news release.
Dr. Vivek Shah from Wellpath, the medical provider for the Butte County Jail said, “Our medical team is prepared to care for COVID-19 patients inside the Butte County Jail. Our team has the appropriate amount of personal protective equipment and is well trained in the care and treatment of contagious respiratory infections such as COVID-19. Our nurses have been preparing for this situation since early March and are ready to take excellent care of those who may fall ill.”
Deputies said since the beginning of coronavirus, the jail has dealt with 11 suspected coronavirus cases, all of which came back negative. Two inmates who were known to have COVID-19 prior to being booked into the jail were immediately isolated in the jail’s medical unit. One of those individuals has since recovered and no longer requires treatment and isolation. The second inmate is currently being treated at an area hospital for a condition unrelated to the COVID-19 infection, said BCSO.
At the beginning of the pandemic, BCSO shared that they had developed protocols to manage the risk of coronavirus within the Butte County Jail.
"The risk mitigation protocols include a reduction in the overall population of the jail, from an Average Daily Population (ADP) of 580 inmates per day prior to the COVID-19 situation, to an ADP of 460 inmates per day," according to the sheriff's report. "Additionally, “enhanced screening” procedures for COVID-19 were implemented to check staff and arrestees prior to entering the facility. After being screened, arrestees brought into jail are required to wear a mask while in the booking area."
“We take the health and wellbeing of our staff and the inmates in our care very seriously," said Sheriff Kory Honea. "Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic from the beginning has been about managing the risk of exposure and spread, which is the only reasonable approach to this complex problem. In conjunction with our partners in the medical community, we are using sound protocols to manage this recent, yet anticipated development. We believe we are well-positioned to navigate these challenges.”