Ind. jail's COVID outbreak spreading 'quicker than we could have imagined'

"The rate that this virus has spread in our facility is very alarming to me," Sheriff Michael Nielsen said


By Sarah Nelson
The Indianapolis Star
        
LEBANON, Ind. — After reporting zero cases among staff and inmates throughout the pandemic, the Boone County Jail is in the midst of its first COVID-19 outbreak.

So far, 25 inmates and two employees have tested positive for a virus that officials say is spreading "much quicker" than they imagined since slowly taking in more inmates in late May. The facility, which currently houses 132 people, confirmed its first case on July 16.

Seventeen of the COVID-positive inmates are unvaccinated, sheriff's officials said Thursday.

A granite star in the lobby of Boone County Jail
A granite star in the lobby of Boone County Jail (Indy Star)

It's unclear whether the cases are among the rapidly spreading delta variant. Whatever is driving the outbreak, Sheriff Michael Nielsen said in a news release, it's spreading "much quicker than we could have imagined."

"The rate that this virus has spread in our facility is very alarming to me," Nielsen's statement said. "We knew when we began to open the facility back up that we would probably get the virus into our facility but not to this level so quickly."

He ended with a strong urge for the public to wear masks and get vaccinated.

All positive inmates and their blocks were placed in quarantine for 10 days. Staff issued masks and sanitized the blocks.

Nielsen said the sheriff's office is working with the state health department to identify the strain of virus surging in the jail and mitigate the spread.

©2021 www.indystar.com.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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