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Metro Atlanta jails adjusting procedures to curtail rising COVID-19 cases

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    Atlanta, GA (WGCL) — As COVID-19 cases continue to impact institutions such as schools and hospitals, metro Atlanta jails have also had to adjust their procedures to control the virus spread.

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s office has had to implement new protocols to protect inmates and staffers from COVID-19, jail leaders reported.

According to a statement, DeKalb County jail will now enter a Phase Two Plan of Action for management of COVID-19 cases at the jail.

The jail announced 320 inmates have been tested for COVID-19 since March. Of those, 78 inmates have had positive test results. The jail’s average daily population is 1,300, according to the sheriff’s office.

Additionally, 45 inmates who have tested positive remain in custody, and none require hospitalization.

The statement noted, “inmates who test positive are being monitored by our medical services provider around the clock, and we are prepared to respond to any need for additional care, if that becomes necessary.”

Out of the more than 650 employees at the jail, 53 staffers have tested positive since March.

According to DeKalb County jail officials, Phase Two will call for the following:

Extended, surveilled quarantine of inmates and a continuation of restrictions regarding inmate movement and access to the facility by the public
Everyone in our facility, including inmates, is required to wear a mask at all times.
Detention and medical services staff also wear Personal Protective Equipment when in contact with inmates.
Implement new systems to help the jail automate daily cleaning throughout the facility.
Further down I-20 at the Fulton County Jail, a spokesperson reported there were 19 COVID-19 cases at the jail as of November 20.

The spokesperson noted that’s less than 1 percent of the jail’s total population.

To further curtail COVID-19 cases at the Fulton County jail, the following procedures have been implemented:

Rapid and widespread testing is ongoing to identify the individuals who have the coronavirus.
Inmates who refuse to be tested are quarantined for 14 days.
Inmates with negative test results are processed through the system as usual.
Inmates who test positive are placed in isolation and undergo treatment as prescribed by medical staff.
Upon entry to the facility, all individuals (inmates, staff, et al.) are questioned about exposure, symptoms and temperatures are measured.
The spokesperson said leaders at the jail implemented stringent protocols in the early part of 2020 to control the spread of the virus.

According to a Gwinnett County jail official, “there has been no increase of COVID in our jail nor have we made any modifications to our protocol.”

The Cobb County Jail has not released its COVID-19 numbers or procedures.

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