For the first time since the pandemic began in Washington State, 16 cases of COVID-19 have been reported at the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle (KCCF).
On Sunday, December 6, an inmate at the facility reported flu-like symptoms. According to the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention, this person had been at the jail for more than a month and tested negative upon initial entry.
Those housed within the same part of the jail were tested as soon as possible, and 15 out of 69 tested inmates tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. The positive individuals have been transferred to medical isolation at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. The other 54 have been placed in quarantine housing at KCCF.
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“This is the first time we have confirmed cases of COVID-19 from coronavirus exposures that occurred within our jails,” stated a new release.
Public Health contact tracers are working to identify inmates, staff, or visitors who may have had close contact with the recently identified cases. KCCF staff have decontaminated the wing of the jail where these individuals had been housed, as well as any hallways, elevators, and transport vehicles that they may have used.
To manage cases within the facility, the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention has worked with criminal justice partners to reduce the in-custody population at their jails through booking restrictions and other steps — this has lowered the average daily population from 1,900 at the start of 2020 to fewer than 1,400.
King County jails test everyone booked into jail and require all employees and visitors to complete a symptoms check, temperature screening, and don face coverings whenever entering the facilities.
The facility will be “reviewing protocols for improvements going forward.”