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Northwest Arkansas jails dealing with more covid cases

by Tracy Neal | July 17, 2021 at 1:03 a.m.
Deputy First Class Robbie Phipps and Detention Officer Zachary Newman inside the Washington County Detention Center. (Courtesy Photo/WASHINGTON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE).

County jails once again are dealing with covid-19 positive inmates, officials said.

Three inmates in the Benton County Jail tested positive for covid-19 after showing symptoms, Sheriff Shawn Holloway said Thursday.

Lt. Shannon Jenkins, spokeswoman for the Benton County Sheriff's Office, said command staff, medical staff and the state Health Department decided to test everyone in the jail.

Jenkins said she didn't know when the testing is going to take place. She said it will take a few days for the Health Department to get the results to the Sheriff's Office after testing is completed.

The inmate population in the jail Friday was 638.

Jay Cantrell, chief deputy of the Washington County Sheriff's Office, said there are 20 positive cases in the jail, with the last positive test coming Wednesday.

There were 646 detainees in the Washington County Jail on Thursday, Cantrell said.

Washington County isn't planning to test all the detainees, he said.

"We test every detainee as they come out of the two-week initial intake quarantine blocks," Cantrell said. "That's where these current positive cases originated. We isolate the positives cases."

Cantrell said the Sheriff's Office works closely with the Health Department and follows its guidance.

"If we find cases within the general population blocks, we may decide to test all detainees, but so far we don't have any in GP," Cantrell said.

Holloway said staff have given inmates the opportunity to receive covid-19 vaccines. He said he didn't know the number of inmates who had been vaccinated.

Some employees also have been vaccinated, but he did not know the number, Holloway said.

Cantrell said 50.8% of the detainees have been fully vaccinated; 2.% have been partially vaccinated; and 22.4% have refused the vaccine.

The remainder of the detainees are not yet eligible for the vaccine, Cantrell said. The ineligible inmates are in their two-week quarantine or they have active covid, he said.

Capt. Philip Pevehouse with the Sebastian County Jail said Friday there were no covid cases in the facility. He said detainees with symptoms are tested by medical staff at the jail.

Crawford County Sheriff Ron Brown said Friday the jail did not have any positive cases. He said they quarantine detainees for seven days upon intake and don't allow public visitation.

Danyelle McNeill, Health Department spokeswoman, said the agency recommends vaccinating staff and inmates.

"We encourage hand washing and maskings as well as thoroughly cleaning area," she said.

McNeill said they also recommend limiting contact with visitors when possible.

Print Headline: Jails dealing with more covid positive cases

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