By Debra Moore
To date a total of six inmates have tested positive for Covid-19 in the Plumas County jail. The Plumas County Public Health Agency had reported Dec. 31 that individuals tested positive at the jail facility — but did not indicate the number, nor whether they were inmates or staff members.
During an interview this morning, Jan. 4, Jail Commander Chad Hermann said that since the Public Health announcement, three additional inmates tested positive, bringing the total number to six (so three had tested positive by New Year’s eve). There are 37 individuals in custody at this time. Thus far no staff members have tested positive during this outbreak, though there is at least one test pending.
When asked if the jail or Public Health had been able to trace how the virus spread, Hermann said, yes, that it started with a new inmate. “He made it through the quarantine protocol,” Hermann said, but after he was released into his shared cell, said he didn’t feel well and subsequently tested positive.
Thus far all inmates are being treated on the premises, and none have required hospitalization. Hermann said that one inmate was checked out at the hospital after complaining of shortness of breath, but tests indicated that he was receiving adequate oxygen. The jail is receiving regular visits from medical personnel and Public Health.
When asked if any inmates have been released early as a result of the positive cases, Hermann said that they had not. “No one is close to their release date,” he said, and their level of threat to the community is considered in making such decisions.
The jail is operating for the most part under standard procedures, albeit with increased sanitation. Hermann said the jail is fogged on a regular basis and more intensive cleaning is occurring between activities — such as the use of the recreation facilities. Additionally, visitations are limited to one at a time, when prior to the outbreak six were allowed.
Hermann credits his jail staff for dealing with the increased workload while being short on staff members. “The staff is exhausted,” Hermann said, adding “We’re burning up overtime.”
Still, he said that “Staff has done an amazing job handling every aspect of the facility with professionalism and compassion.”