Four inmates at the Dukes County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19, which amounts to one-quarter of the inmate population that was housed at the facility at the time, Heather Arpin, a spokesperson for Dukes County Sheriff Robert Ogden, said Friday. Two staff members have also tested positive.
As a result of the cases, the sheriff’s department “has implemented a stringent procedure for inmate movement and COVID-isolation protocols,” Arpin wrote in an email responding to a Times inquiry. “Since the height of the pandemic, all newly admitted individuals have entered the facility beginning with an eight-day quarantine and COVID-19 testing prior to entering [the] general population. Of the four inmates currently testing positive, one tested positive upon admission, and has remained in quarantine. Currently, two staff members have tested positive for COVID-19; both staff members are out on leave,” Arpin wrote.
The positive COVID cases at the jail come as the Island is considered at “high risk” for community spread, according to the Island boards of health daily report issued on Thursday.
Arpin wrote that a facility lockdown procedure has been implemented “to mitigate community spread within the jail and house of correction.” She added that the jail has personal protective equipment available.
Arpin also shared a summary of the COVID-related procedures that are in place.
- All staff and inmates are required to wear KN95 masks.
- COVID isolation protocols for inmate positive cases include housing, recreation, phone access, and showering plans, to ensure confirmed positive or symptomatic individuals are in separate housing units from the general population.
- Officers entering isolation units will be required to wear masks and gloves, and use a face shield.
- Air purifiers are used in COVID isolation units.
- Staff members are screened to include temperature checks prior to admittance into the facility.
- Infection control protocols involve cleaning contact surfaces three times each day.
- In-person visits are suspended.
- Services such as recreation, laundry, phone access have individual protocols to ensure disinfecting of surfaces and social distancing to include time slots for use.
- In-person programs are suspended; however other programming continues via Edovo tablets.
- Meals will be delivered to inmates’ cells.
In a message to The Times on Saturday, Dukes County Sheriff Robert Ogden wrote, “We have a full-time licensed registered nurse on our staff, who has worked in our facility since 2018, a full-time human service officer who manages each case, and a contracted on-call doctor. We also have ready access to in-house COVID vaccines and boosters, and our justice-involved individuals are monitored 24 hours a day. I believe it is safe to say, after caring for this population through the global pandemic, my team has become quite adept at managing illness in our facility.”