Coronavirus Updates

Kentucky jail tests all workers, inmates for COVID-19 after minor outbreak

Coronavirus in Kentucky

UPDATE 11:50 a.m. Sept. 23, 2020: Boyd County Jailer Bill Hensley says all inmates and staff at the Boyd County Detention Center have tested negative for COVID-19 aside from the original two positive results confirmed Monday.

BOYD COUNTY, KY (WOWK) — Officials at the Boyd County Detention Center said today they’ve completed testing the entire staff and have found no new cases of COVID-19.

This comes after two of the facility’s employees tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.

Now, the jail is taking renewed steps to get the situation under control.

Detention centers in Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio have been hotspots for COVID-19 in recent months—and after two employees of the Boyd County Detention Center tested positive for coronavirus, the challenge here, as in other centers, is containment.

COVID-19 testers head into the Boyd County Detention Center to finish testing inmates.

“To err on the side of caution, we’re testing all the inmates today. They’re going through testing today, and if we can’t finish up today, we’ll finish up tomorrow.” 

Bill Hensley, Boyd County Jailer

For the jailer, an outbreak is something he’s been trying to avoid.

“We have a schedule: we go through and empty out the cells, we completely clean them with a disinfectant spray, everything’s taken out, then we put everything back in. We do that constantly.”

Bill Hensley, Boyd County Jailer

In a closed environment like a jail, this is especially important due to the close proximity of the inmates.

“General population cells are just basically big rooms, filled with bunk beds next to each other.” 

Gustavo Guzman, Chief Deputy, Boyd County Detention Center

Conditions like these are a potential COVID-19 breeding ground. Hensley says there’s not much you can do to change that reality.

“If you do have a cluster of people who have it, all you can do is kinda isolate that area because it can spread if you don’t get it under control.”

Bill Hensley, Boyd County Jailer

In an effort to limit who goes in and out of the detention center, the jail has gone virtual.

“You pay bonds, electronically, online. And the visitation, the inmates have tablets in their cell, so it’s almost like Skype.” 

Bill Hensley, Boyd County Jailer

The Boyd County Detention Center holds nearly 300 inmates. Despite that, staff there is hoping all of the COVID-19 test results will be in by the end of the week.

“It’s been a lot of work because we want to make sure that we’re caring for the health of the inmates.” 

Gustavo Guzman, Chief Deputy, Boyd County Detention Center

Officials from the facility say so far none of the inmates have displayed any symptoms of COVID-19. They say if any inmates come back positive for the virus, they plan to isolate them and continue testing in the future.

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