Nine inmates and 20 staff members have tested positive for coronavirus at the Morris County Jail, including one corrections officer who returned to work Monday, officials said.
Several other of the 141 inmates are awaiting test results, and other employees are expected to return to work this week, Sheriff James M. Gannon said.
The first inmate-related case of coronavirus was confirmed March 24, Gannon said.
All inmates affected by the virus were in stable condition and being cared for in two housing units -- one for men, the other women -- designated for medical isolation, he said.
"The positive cases at the Correctional Facility were inevitable, given the population and turnaround of inmates," Gannon said.
"The men and women of the Morris County Correctional Facility are true soldiers. When one temporarily falls from the line, two more step up. I’m now seeing some previously ill staff returning to replace those who replaced them."
There were more than 41,000 coronavirus cases reported in New Jersey as of Monday.
Specific disinfection and social distancing rules were implemented at the jail on March 5 and steadily strengthened, subsequently resulting in a full lockdown.
The following rules apply during the lockdown:
- Inmates will be permitted outside their cells for a half-hour per day to take a shower and/or make a telephone call. A maximum of two inmates may be out of their cells at one time to shower and/or make calls.
- All inmates are being fed in their cells instead of the dayroom.
- Preparation and serving of staff and inmate meals will exclusively be done by the Food Service contractor.
- A maximum of three inmates can wash dishes and sanitize in the kitchen but will not be involved with food handling or preparation.
- All inmates working in the kitchen and laundry will have temperature checks before starting work.
- Daily temperature checks will be conducted one inmate at a time on designated housing units.
- Only one inmate at a time will be permitted within the medical unit.
Twenty-eight non-violent offenders being held at the jail were released last month in compliance with a New Jersey Supreme Court order.
The Major County Sheriffs of America advocates that releases be made on a case-by-case basis with careful consideration of an individual’s conviction for violent crime offenses.
Release of inmates also must take into account their medical, mental health, housing and job needs, the resolution says.
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