The St. Joseph County Jail in South Bend is on lockdown after a new inmate tested positive for COVID-19. This is the jail’s first confirmed COVID-19 case.
The inmate was transferred to the county jail on Monday by court order from Westville Correctional Facility, where there’s a COVID-19 outbreak.
The inmate was not eligible for release because he was charged with aggravated battery, possession of a handgun and probation violation.
Sheriff Bill Redman says the jail’s population has decreased by 200 inmates since mid-March to help lower the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak, but releasing this inmate was not an option.
“As we’ve said all along, we were not going to jeopardize the safety of the community by releasing individuals that are violent in nature,” he says.
The inmate was not showing symptoms of COVID-19 but staff tested him anyways since there’s an outbreak at Westville.
Redman says staff treated the inmate as if he had the virus from the moment he arrived by wearing PPE and limiting contact as much as possible.
“This is a facility that just doesn’t stop, no matter what we try to do," he says. "Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do to control every single movement inside the facility.”
Redman says all staff who were in contact with the inmate were wearing PPE and will be tested and isolated as a precaution.
He says the inmate has not had contact with any other prisoners and was put in the medical isolation unit immediately after he arrived.
As of May 6th, 54 inmates have been tested for COVID-19 and all returned negative.
Redman says to his knowledge there are no current court orders for more inmate transfers, but that doesn’t mean there won't be any in the future.
(Read the full release below.)
Early this morning as a precautionary safety measure, the inmate pods in the St. Joseph County jail were put on lock down following a test result of a positive COVID-19 newly arrived inmate. The lock down was ordered by the Sheriff & Warden to limit staff and inmate movement with the jail while jail staff and medical investigate any other possible COVID-19 exposures, isolate and test those potentially exposed. The inmates are only locked down within their pods not their bunk cells, and they still have access to the day room and telephones.
At this time the area of exposure is limited only to the jail medical isolation unit. The asymptomatic inmate has been treated by jail staff as a possible positive since his arrival on Monday from Westville Correctional. The inmate has been handled via all jail COVID protocols, including being masked and housed only within the jail’s medical isolation since his arrival at the jail. The suspected individual has tested positive for COVID-19 and any potentially exposed jail staff or jail trustees will be precautionarily tested and isolated.
As of May 6th, the jail medical staff have tested and isolated over 54 inmates, all returning negative.