QUESTION: Has there been another coronavirus outbreak at Alamance County’s jail?
ANSWER: The coronavirus pandemic may have slipped from the headlines. But the specter of COVID-19 continues to haunt many local government institutions, including Alamance County’s jail, which recently reported a new outbreak of this infectious disease among its inmate population.
According to Michelle Mills, a spokeswoman for Alamance County’s sheriff, the jail’s most recent outbreak has already grown to 27 individuals since its incipient signs emerged over the weekend.
“On Sunday,” Mills recalled in an interview Wednesday, “we had one inmate that tested positive, and three others were starting to show symptoms, so they were quarantined immediately.”
Mills added that these symptomatic detainees prompted the county’s health department to test all of the jail’s inmates on Monday. The results of these tests, which came back a day later, revealed many more people who had contracted COVID-19.
Under guidelines established by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, two positive cases in any congregate living facility are enough to constitute an “outbreak,” which must be reported to officials in Raleigh. Alamance County’s jail was, consequently, added to the state’s list of “ongoing outbreaks” when the state updated its running tally of outbreaks at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
According to this statewide inventory, Alamance County’s jail is one of 10 detention facilities in North Carolina that have reported multiple positive test results in the past 28 days. The state’s list currently puts the jail’s case count at six individuals – a far cry from the 100-plus people who tested positive in the detention center’s first outbreak last August. In the meantime, however, the number of positive cases within the jail has continued to increase since the state posted its figures on Tuesday.
Mills said that the number of infections within the jail had grown to 27 by Wednesday afternoon – with the results of 13 tests still pending. Mills noted that a detention officer is among the infected individuals that the local health department has, so far, identified in the jail’s ongoing outbreak.
Mills added that the sheriff’s office is taking this new round of infections every bit as seriously as the jail’s earlier bouts with COVID-19.
“We’ve continued all the strict guidelines that we’ve had at the jail,” she elaborated, “and we’ve ordered more N-95 [face masks]”
See also notice of two cases of COVID-19 within Alamance County court buildings and reimposition of a mask mandate: https://alamancenews.com/back-to-back-covid-cases-in-alamance-county-courts/