Smith County jail inmate tests positive for COVID-19, two units under quarantine

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SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith has announced that one inmate and one detention officer at the Smith County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19.

Smith said the officer tested positive several weeks ago at the North Jail Facility.

“At that time, we quarantined two separate trusty tanks at the North Jail Facility as well as four detention officers who had worked in close proximity to the detention officer who tested positive,” Smith said in a statement.

The officers and trusty tanks remained in quarantine for 14 days without symptoms, Smith said, and the quarantine was lifted.

On Thursday, though, a trusty in the North Jail Facility “complained of COVID-19 like symptoms,” Smith said. Further questioning revealed that the trusty had been symptomatic for at least three days.

The inmate was tested for COVID-19 and housed in a negative pressure cell.

In addition, all trusties housed in the same tank as the inmate were immediately quarantined and issued mass, Smith said.

“Unfortunately, the (sick) inmate had been in direct contact with four jail staff, who were also immediately quarantined,” Smith said.

On Tuesday, the inmate’s test came back positive, Smith said. The inmate remains in the negative pressure cell in the clinic.

Another inmate, a Bumble Bee Trusty in another tank at the North Jail Facility, began complaining of similar symptoms Tuesday. That trusty was immediately transferred to the central Jail Clinic and tested for COVID-19.

Smith said he expects that result back by early Wednesday.

That tank is now under quarantine for 14 days or until a test result is returned negative, Smith said.

All inmates in both J and H tanks will wear masks at all times and will practice as much social distancing as a jail sentence and setting allows.

Smith said he also has spoken with Smith County Judge Nathan Moran “and advised him of the need for more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as hand sanitizer, gowns, masks, gloves, and disposable shoe covers.

“We also will be issuing face shields tomorrow for those employees working in booking as well as those assigned to areas in the facility in which assaultive inmates are housed,” Smith said.

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