2 positive coronavirus cases at Tuscola County jail, as inmate testing ramps up

One has been released on bond, the other in isolation in the jail
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 5:21 PM EDT
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TUSCOLA COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - County jails are now ramping up inmate coronavirus testing as the state works to help cover the cost.

So far, most jails in mid-Michigan are COVID-19 free, except one.

At this point, Tuscola County is the only one in our viewing area that is reporting a positive COVID-19 case.

But some county jails are not testing all inmates yet, and at least one jail is still waiting for testing supplies.

“We started implementing that two weeks ago, and we have had two positive cases as a result of that,” says Tuscola County Sheriff Glen Skrent.

Skrent says one inmate has bonded out of jail and contact tracing has begun, while the other inmate who tested positive for coronavirus remains in the jail.

“That person is in isolation by themselves and they have no signs or symptoms, and the staff is fully trained and they are taking all the PPE precautions,” says Skrent.

The state is now paying for testing supplies for county jails to prevent the spread of the virus when people leave jail, whether they are released or are sent to prison.

“We do the sputum test, the state of Michigan provides the test kits, the officer or the jail nurses does the test and then it gets shipped overnight by the state of Michigan to a lab in California,” he says.

Some county sheriffs we spoke with today say they are also starting the process of testing all inmates coming into and leaving the jail.

Saginaw County jail officials says they are still waiting for testing supplies to arrive from the state, and at this point, the county is not in compliance with state guidelines. So, an inmate in Saginaw who is scheduled to be sent to a state prison cannot be sent there for now. The county bills the state a daily rate to house that inmate.

Skrent expects more COVID-19 cases as the testing ramps up.

“This is a problem that every jail is facing now that everyone is doing testing, I’m sure we are not unique and we will probably have another one before its over,” says Skrent.

A spokesperson with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says it is working with the county jails on getting them the testing supplies they need.

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