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Ga. jail staff taking on extra duties as virus takes toll

In addition to dealing with inmate infections, the department recently announced the loss of one of their own

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By Larry Hobbs
The Brunswick News, Ga.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Undersheriff Ron Corbett of the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office was busy Thursday afternoon making sandwiches for bag meals to feed the inmates of the county jail.

He and some of the Glynn County Detention Center correctional staff formed a makeshift lunch line after two jail trustees tested positive earlier Thursday for COVID-19, Corbett said. Those two inmates and six others usually prepare regular hot meals for the inmate population under officer supervision.

But after the two inmates tested positive, sheriff’s office employees had to improvise, Corbett said.

“They all got bag lunches today, but it was an emergency situation,” Corbett said. “We use trustees to work the kitchen. But we had a trustee who became symptomatic and ended up testing positive.”

Those two inmates are now in isolation at the jail, Corbett said. The other six inmates are being quarantined from the remainder of the jail population, he said. As of Wednesday, Corbett said two other inmates also were in isolation with COVID-19.

“We have had a small percentage of our population test positive,” Corbett said. “Some of them were quarantined and then retested and most came back negative.”

The recent COVID-19 uptick has rocked the sheriff’s office staff with more devastating effect. Sheriff Neal Jump announced Monday that veteran detention division Lt. Stephanie Shuman died “from complications related to COVID.”

A shift supervisor in the detention center, Shuman had served with the sheriff’s office for 16 years.

“Please remember her family during this heart-breaking time ... " Jump said. “She will be dearly missed by all of us.”

Presently, seven detention officers are off duty with COVID-19, Corbett said. The detention division already was short staffed, he said.

Folks are working overtime to fill the gaps, he said. Additional correctional staff will be called on to work the jail kitchen for now, he said. Detention officers also are filling in with laundry work at the jail.

Everyone is wearing a mask, he said. All employees have their temperature checked and answer questions about symptoms before starting work, he said.

“We’re following the same local health department and CDC protocols,” he said. “We’re following the protocols for isolation and quarantine depending on the circumstances.”

Everyone is pitching in, staying longer or working extra shifts, he said.

“It’s especially hard when we’re already probably 25 percent down and then we have to deal with this,” Corbett said. “Accolades to all the staff who have just been so willing to come and take up the slack.”

As of Thursday, there were 339 men and women inmates in the county jail, records show.

(c)2021 The Brunswick News (Brunswick, Ga.)