Clark County jail

Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel said he’s made it a top priority to investigate and arrest any person who attempts to introduce drugs into the jail.

JEFFERSONVILLE — The Clark County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that an inmate has tested positive for COVID-19, a 24-year-old man who is currently in isolation and under medical watch at the facility.

Clark County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Scottie Maples said the man was arrested April 8. During a pre-screening process — which is currently being done for all new arrests in the sally port of the jail outside of the building — the man said he had recently been in contact with a family member who had tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

He was taken to the hospital for testing before ever going into the jail, and was released back into custody where he was placed in an isolation cell where he will remain for at least two weeks. He is being being monitored regularly for symptoms and the sheriff’s office is working under guidance of the Clark County Health Department. The man previously had a mild cough, which has since gone away, Maples said.

“There’s been minimal officer exposure because of the prescreening that we did and basically no exposure to any other inmates,” Maples said.

The office began implementing procedures in late February to help mitigate any spread within the jail, including asking new intakes a series of questions, taking temperature and setting up the prescreening area outside to minimize any potential exposure.

“We were well prepared for this day,” Maples said. “It wasn’t if but when we knew we were going to have to deal with this. When we did get our first case, I’m pleased that [the inmate] was identified before even making it into the facility.

“I’m confident in Sheriff [Jamey] Noel’s procedure that he put in place to deal with potential COVID-infected people coming into the facility.”

The outside prescreening also means that people who would usually be booked in and quickly released on their own recognizance don’t come in contact with the larger jail population. And new inmates booked in who will be staying for a period of time are first placed into a separate pod; once it is is full, the pod is quarantined for two weeks after the last inmate to arrive was placed there.

“Thats for everybody’s safety,” Maples said.

Clark County Health Officer Dr. Eric Yazel said jails, nursing homes and the homeless shelter are areas being watched carefully for potential spread, given the communal populations.

“It’s expected that we get a case there [and] I think it’s actually a testament to them...that we’ve gotten this far before they’ve had a case,” Yazel said of the jail.

He added that the health department and sheriff’s office have been in close contact since the start and have extensively discussed the response plan.

“They’re doing everything textbook,” the health officer said. “I have confidence that if we do get further cases from the jail, it won’t be because they haven’t done what they’re supposed to. They’ve been excellent in their response.”

In Floyd County, Sheriff Frank Loop said he has not yet had any inmates who have warranted testing, although he knows that day might come. His staff is also doing prescreening — asking certain questions, taking temperatures.

Loop said he’s had a few employees who were previously isolated for potential exposure elsewhere, but their tests have returned negative.

Newsgathering partner WAVE 3 reported Monday that in Louisville, 35 inmates of the Louisville Metro Corrections Department had been tested to date, all with negative results.

Three Metro Corrections officers have tested positive; two had returned to their duties as of Monday.

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