Nearly half of the inmates in the Bartholomew County Jail have been infected with COVID-19. The sheriff’s department is reporting that of the 211 inmates in the jail, 91 tested positive since Saturday, along with 4 jail employees.
Sheriff Matt Myers says that the jail is now on lockdown through at least the end of February. No one from the outside is allowed in, even attorneys for inmates.
Just last week, the sheriff’s department said that only 11 inmates had tested positive through all of 2020, and seven inmates were showing symptoms as of Jan. 19th, with five positive tests.
A strike team from the Indiana State Department of Health came to the jail over the weekend to test all the inmates and employees, revealing the outbreak. Four inmates refused the tests. They are being held in quarantine also.
The sheriff says sanitation in the jail stepped up when COVID-19 hit last March. Inmates and employees are required to wear masks, inmates are screened prior to entering the jail, as are employees. And employees must wear protective equipment when entering cell blocks. The jail staff is currently moving cell blocks to quarantine inmates who have tested positive and to keep those who have tested negative safe.
Despite the outbreak, the sheriff stressed that COVID-19 will not lead to most inmates’ early release. Only those who have less than 30 days left on their sentence and who are judged to be no threat to the community will be released early.
Myers said that jail staff have been in contact with local and federal officials about vaccines for the inmates, but so far that does not seem to be a priority.