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Kitchen inmate worker at Sedgwick County jail tests positive for COVID-19

53 others forced to quarantine
Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 1:44 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Update: Monday, August 3, 2020: The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office said Monday it was notified on Friday that an inmate had tested positive for COVID19. The inmate was not symptomatic but was tested for an upcoming medical procedure not related to COVID-19.

This inmate worked in the kitchen along with 53 other inmates. These kitchen workers prepare and deliver meals to the inmates throughout the facility.

Because of the inmate working in the kitchen, all the other inmates assigned as kitchen inmate workers were quarantined. The sheriff’s office then had to select and train 54 new inmates as kitchen workers. These inmates work in teams of 18 to operate the kitchen facility throughout the day.

The sheriff’s office said while the 54 inmates were being chosen and trained, there was a delay in getting the meals to the inmates at the normal times.

“As you can imagine, we have to vet those inmates. We can’t just grab any inmate within the facility and have them work in our kitchen. There’s a vetting process that our staff has to go through to identify those inmates that are more suited to working for the kitchen. So, we went through that process at the same time,” said Col. Brian White.

Although the meals were delayed, all of the inmates received breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Col. White said the jail serves up to 10 different specialty diets. Currently, all meals are back to serving meals at regular times.

“This is one of my biggest concerns was that somebody from the kitchen staff would be positive. So, we’re very careful of course, maintaining and monitoring that,” said Col. White. “It’s extremely frustrating, and it’s very challenging to manage this as we go forward. Many members of my staff came in and worked once we had this notification. I, myself, and many other team members delivered meals and reported to the kitchen to help overcome this problem that we had.”

Col. White said testing of the 53 quarantined inmates is now underway. A total of 150 inmates at the Sedgwick County jail are now some type of quarantine phase. Not all cases are connected. Since March, the jail has had 27 inmates test positive for COVID-19.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office said it was notified Thursday, July 30, that an inmate had tested positive for COVID19. This case is not related to previous cases.

This inmate reported he was sick on July 27, 2020. The inmate was immediately placed in medical isolation pending the results of the COVID19 test. The inmate was tested by the contracted medical provider of the Sedgwick County Detention Facility on July 27, 2020, because he was symptomatic. The inmate was released from custody prior to us receiving the positive test results on July 30, 2020.

Based on the advice from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the contracted medical provider will offer testing to 27 staff members and 78 inmates that had possible contact with the inmate. Seventy-six (76) inmates will be quarantined until they are medically cleared. Two inmates that were symptomatic were already tested and placed in medical isolation.

Four inmates were released from the Sedgwick County Detention Facility prior to the inmate receiving the positive test results. KDHE will be contacting those individuals.

The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office will also be contacting judges, members of the DA’s office, and defense attorneys about the positive test result.

“We are continuing to maintain sanitization standards to take care of our staff and inmates which include issuing extra soap, and having disinfectant available as needed. All staff members have been issued masks to wear, and all inmates have been issued face coverings for the last several months,” said the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office said it has established a plan to minimize further exposure to staff and inmates if more inmates need to be quarantined or isolated. There is also a full medical staff on site

“The safety and health of our staff, community and inmates is paramount,” the sheriff’s office said.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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