“We tested probably 20-something folks and only had two (positive) in that dorm,” Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens said of jail COVID-19 testing this week. According to the sheriff, however, the jail still boasts 90 COVID-19 positive inmates and 30 COVID-19 staff members – and the numbers are continuing to rise. “We’ve got a lot of people sick right now.”
The minimal new cases noted this week gives the sheriff hope that infection rates are at least somewhat contained, an optimism tempered with past experience and the fact that 13% of the current population is already testing positive for the virus.
“Hopefully, we’re starting to flatten,” she said. “I don’t know. Hopefully.”
As a precautionary measure, the jail is attempting to limit the number of inmates housed in the facility, and work-release labor normally conducted by inmates around the county has come to a halt. The facility that normally houses 800-plus inmates pre-coronavirus now routinely has less than 700 detainees on site.
The federal Bureau of Prisons complex based in Beaumont, which reported 82 inmate COVID-19 cases as of July 10, were at 441 reported positive COVID-19 cases less than a week later on July 16.