A significant coronavirus outbreak occurs in King County Jail. 19 cases were discovered on Monday alone.
The outbreak is responsible for most of the 46 cases held at the downtown Seattle detention center and the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, according to the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention on Wednesday.
In addition, seven department employees, all assigned to the downtown Seattle prison, have tested positive since March 9, spokesman Noah Hagland said in an email on Wednesday.
Of the most recent incarcerated cases, one person tested positive during booking, while the others were identified after reporting symptoms or through contact and surveillance testing in residential units, Hagland wrote.
Those in custody who tested positive for the virus have now all been moved to the Kent facility, which has been used since the beginning of the pandemic to house those who have symptoms and those who are at high risk of getting themselves to infect with the virus.
Jail Health Services plans to run COVID-19 tests on everyone else detained in Seattle Jail this week. The department is also working to recruit a contractor to carry out an improved cleaning of the facility and improve the cleaning procedures that were already in place during the pandemic, the email said.
Due to supply shortages, most of the people in custody were given cloth masks Surgical masks, which the department says are reserved for groups at higher risk, including those incarcerated working in prison and those in medical isolation or quarantine. Since the surge in some cases, the department has been working to make surgical masks more widely available this week.
People in custody aged 65 and over have already received vaccinations, and DAJD staff working in safe custody have recently had the opportunity to get their admissions as part of phase 1B, stage 2 of the state vaccine introduction.
Most incarcerated people under 65 won’t be able to get the vaccine until late March, but vaccination clinics are tentatively scheduled to start dosed April 6, Hagland said in his email.
In early December, 16 people in custody tested positive for the coronavirus after a person who initially tested negative when booking a month earlier developed flu-like symptoms, DAJD previously reported. Before the December outbreak, 47 people had tested positive in the two prison facilities.
Last year, the number of adult prison inmates was reduced by more than 550 people, according to DAJD’s data dashboard, compared to a current population of 1,345. Of the 24 teenagers jailed, up from 43 in March 2020, zero recently tested positive for the coronavirus, the data shows.
Among those detained in state prisons or on release from work, there have been 31 new confirmed cases in the past 30 days, although only four were classified as active cases on Wednesday. This is based on information published online by the Department of Corrections (DOC). Of 6,187 cases confirmed as positive by DOC during the pandemic, most people have recovered. The data show that 14 people died in DOC custody.