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OGDEN — More than 80 Weber County Jail inmates and one employee have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, officials announced Wednesday.
The development came a few days after the jail announced five inmates had tested positive and one employee.
The 82 positive inmate cases are concentrated in the jail’s 12th Street facility.
The Weber County Sheriff’s Office implemented proactive steps in response to the pandemic in March, officials said. The jail population was reduced by 30%, face masks were provided for inmates and other CDC guidelines were followed.
The first two cases were reported in early June and the first individual to test positive had one symptom — a cough.
That individual was diagnosed with chronic cough due to a previous medical condition, which delayed his COVID-19 diagnosis, officials explained.
Other COVID-19 symptoms presented eight days later and he was immediately tested. Another individual who was in close contact with him also tested positive but was asymptotic.
Those two inmates were then isolated from the general population.
The rest of the units where the two inmates were housed were quarantined and temperature checks were implemented.
Mass testing was implemented to those who were exposed — 16 employees and 125 inmates.
The original two positive inmates had been housed in dorm-style units with about 40 inmates each.
Any symptomatic inmates have been moved to an isolation unit — the jail does not have the capacity currently to move all inmates to single-cell isolation units.
In the section where the first positive inmate resided, only one out of 19 inmates tested positive. The majority of the cases came from the other two units, where the asymptotic inmate resided.
Less than 1% of those who tested positive were symptomatic, jail officials said, and of the 125 inmates tested during the mass testing, only one “complained of COVID related symptoms.”
Testing remains ongoing and positive cases are expected to increase, officials added.
Ten individuals at the jail’s Kiesel facility have tested positive as well and officials believe they were exposed while on work release in the community.
There are two other inmates with COVID-19 symptoms who recently returned from work release and were screened back to jail — their test results are pending.
“Our top priority is the health and safety of both our inmates and employees,” officials said Wednesday in a statement. “As inmates are released, our medical staff provides them with COVID educational information. We are also working with the health department and other community partners as we release inmates to limit spread to our community.”