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Sheriff: Only One Bergen County Jail Inmate, 2 ICE Detainees Test Positive Since Pandemic Began

Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton
Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton Photo Credit: COURTESY: Bergen County Sheriff

The Bergen County Jail has had only one county inmate and two ICE detainees test positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, Sheriff Anthony Cureton reported Tuesday.

Other county jails in North Jersey have reported much higher numbers of inmates and staff infected with the virus, along with several deaths.

At the Bergen County Jail, Cureton reported:

  • A 54-year-old BCJ inmate tested positive on March 28;
  • A 40-year-old Salvadorian national in ICE custody tested positive on March 26;
  • A 31-year-old Mexican national was released by ICE on March 26, three days after the detainee tested positive.

As a precaution, the sheriff said, six county inmates and 4 ICE detainees were being monitored in isolation after exhibiting one or more symptom: upper respiratory infection, body aches, fatigue, headache, loss of taste and smell.

"The Bergen County Jail medical staff monitors a wide range of symptoms as this virus manifests differently from one person to another," Cureton said.

Among his staff, he said, 18 corrections officers, nine sheriff's officers and four members of the nursing staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

An additional 35 corrections officers, 17 sheriff's officers and one nursing staff member who "may have had close contact of ten minutes or more with an individual who has tested positive" remained in quarantine, the sheriff said.

A total of 136 county inmates and 52 ICE detainees have been released since the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered on March 23 that sentences be suspended or coverted to some form of restitution in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, Cureton said Tuesday.

That leaves 227 county inmates and 204 ICE detainees in custody at the county lockup in Hackensack who authorities determined must remain held pending trial or further court action.

Cureton said he received "a large shipment of single-use surgical masks to further protect staff and the jail population" last week.

"All staff assigned to the Bergen County Jail are required to wear masks on post," he said. "All county inmates and ICE detainees are also required to wear masks outside of their cells."

An order of several hundred COVID-19 test kits are due to arrive next week, the sheriff said.

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