Troup County Jail sees rise in COVID-19 cases

Published 1:34 pm Wednesday, September 1, 2021

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The Troup County Jail has 24 COVID-19 cases, according to information released by the sheriff’s office on Wednesday.

The jail had a population of 583 on Wednesday, according to Public Information Officer Stewart Smith. No inmates were hospitalized and 78 total have been vaccinated. Smith said vaccinations were offered on two different occasions.

Sheriff James Woodruff said TCSO first noticed an uptick in cases about two weeks ago.

“[We had] a group of workers that all work together, and I think there were eight in that group,” Woodruff said of when new cases were first noticed. “It just so happened that they were all housed together so we just kept them housed together until they got over it, and they did. They’re back to work.”

The sheriff’s office has been using safety measures since summer 2020 to stop the spread of COVID-19 and still have those in place.

Per the press release from TCSO, inmates are met at the entrance to the booking area and screened using temperature checks and are also sanitized using a mist spray. The inmate is then issued a face covering and is asked a series of COVID-19 screening questions.

If the inmate doesn’t pass the screening, they are transported to the hospital for a medical evaluation to receive clearance prior to being booked.

New intakes to the jail are quarantined for a 14-day period for observation and are then released to general housing units, according to the press release. Any inmates that report to the jail staff that they are not feeling well or if COVID-19 symptoms are witnessed by staff, they are referred to the medical staff, who perform a COVID test as needed. Inmates that do test positive for COVID are then removed from the general housing area and placed in a COVID housing dorm where they are monitored by the staff and remain there until they are medically cleared from quarantine.

All staff members are required to wear face masks while on duty and are asked to monitor their symptoms. They also have temperature checks and are required to report any COVID-19 contact incidents. Any employees who are sick are asked to remain home and follow-up with a medical professional should they experience COVID-19 symptoms. If they test positive, they are placed on sick leave according to current CDC guidelines.

Woodruff said TCSO is also going to give sick inmates Gatorade to help them stay hydrated, chicken broth three times a day and hand sanitizer.

“We are constantly working very closely with our medical staff that we have in place that monitors the inmates several times a day,” Woodruff said. “Jailers also monitor the inmates constantly to see if there’s any change.”

The Troup County Jail’s visitation center is also closed until further notice due to staffing shortages and the numbers of local COVID-19 cases, according to Sheriff James Woodruff. Virtual video visits will still be an option. The center has openings for nine jailers, and seven of its current jailers are out because they tested positive for COVID-19, Woodruff said.

“I want to open the visitation center as soon as possible,” Woodruff said. “It’s very convenient for people. That’s why we put it out there. You make your appointment, you show up, you walk in, you sit down, you get to visit. Certainly, we want to have that, but I have to do what’s best for our officers and the inmates, having enough staff in here to run the jail. And plus, not having so many people in that small building out there will hopefully help [reduce] the spread of COVID.”

Woodruff said the jail is always losing and hiring jailers and that its average number of openings for jailers is about seven.

Because of the staffing shortages, Woodruff said that whereas inmates were previously able to visit the commissary twice a week, they can now only visit it on Fridays.

LDN reporter Cole Trahan contributed to this story.