COVID-19 spreading among inmates at Lubbock County Detention Cen - FOX34 Lubbock

COVID-19 spreading among inmates at Lubbock County Detention Center

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As of Thursday, 25 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Lubbock County Detention Center. The Sheriff's Office originally reported its first cases on Friday. 

"Of the cases so far, nobody's needed to be hospitalized, and again we're not seeing any really, significant symptoms," Sheriff Kelly Rowe said.

About 240 tests have been administered so far.

LSO confirmed the first case or "patient zero" is an inmate who has been incarcerated for the last 3 months, so it remains unclear how inmates were exposed. 

Staff has since activated "Phase 3" of the center's emergency protocol. 

"So we try to minimize the movement as much as possible, and we actually started parts of it several weeks ago with video hearings," Chief Deputy Cody Scott said.

Visitation from family and volunteers has already been suspended for months. 

The sheriff says preventing the spread of the virus is already proving to be a challenge, but even though COVID-19 is new fighting disease within a jail is not. 

"We're used to dealing with these types of infections on a daily basis, Rowe said. "We're talking, whether it's the annual flu bug, strep throat, tuberculosis pops up periodically. And then there's scarlet fever, scabies, the lice, you name it," he said.

After reaching historic lows, the population at the county jail has grown once again in the last couple of months.

At this time, there is no plan to release any inmates with minor offenses to limit the spread.

"That's just not an area I'm willing to negotiate about. My biggest concern will always remain public safety for the citizens here in Lubbock County, Rowe explained. "I'm not going to be that guy to put them right back out there and let them or give them the opportunity to create more victims," he said

When the jail becomes too crowded, the sheriff says they have released low-level offenders before.

"Usually what we find in those cases over the years, it doesn't yield a big number. You're literally talking less than a dozen," he explained.

Currently, there are about 1,300 inmates detained at the center.  Rowe also confirmed 6 staff members have also tested positive, but were exposed outside of work. 

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