FARMINGTON — The Davis County Jail reported a COVID-19 outbreak Friday, its first coronavirus infections among inmates since the pandemic began.
A male inmate in a 35-person housing unit presented with COVID-like symptoms Friday morning and a rapid test for the virus came back positive, the Davis County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
All inmates in the unit were tested, with 18 testing positive, some showing symptoms.
Another 11 showing symptoms tested negative, while 6 tested negative and had no symptoms.
“Unfortunately it’s a dorm-style housing unit, so even though everyone is required to wear masks, they are sharing space,” said Liz Sollis, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman. “That could have been a factor, but we’ve been really careful.”
Friday’s results were the first positive tests among Davis inmates, Sollis said, although there have been a handful of cases in the jail staff.
Inmates who tested positive were put in isolation and those exposed to the positive cases were in quarantine.
The 83-inmate pod where the outbreak occurred will be kept separated from the rest of the jail, which as of Friday housed 375 inmates.
“We’re hoping our approach will isolate it and it won’t spread further so we can get it under control,” Sollis said.
Sheriff Kelly Sparks said in the news release the fact that there had been no COVID cases in the Davis jail until Friday “demonstrates the steps we have been taking are working.”
“At the same time, this incident reminds us that we all must remain vigilant in our precautionary and sanitary measures, in the workplace and elsewhere.” Sparks said.
The Weber County Jail in Ogden had 31 positive COVID-19 cases as of Friday, said Lt. Joshua Marigoni, the Weber County Sheriff’s Office’s corrections spokesperson.
“They’re all contained and isolated,” Marigoni said.
The Weber jail had an outbreak affecting more than 100 inmates in the summer.
Marigoni said most inmates who tested positive this year have had few or no symptoms. One inmate was hospitalized, he said.
At the Utah State Prison in Draper, 1,282 inmates have tested positive, including 9 deaths, according to the Utah Department of Corrections.
The agency said there have been 612 cases at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison, one of them a fatality.
Several suits have been filed by inmates and civil liberties groups, seeking custody releases of all but the most dangerous offenders.
Courts so far have turned down such entreaties, saying jails and prisons have been taking extensive steps to limit risks.
The virus has raged through jails and prisons nationwide, the lack of social distancing making them a prime host ground for infection.