Eight inmates at the Linn County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a press release from the Linn County Sheriff's Office.
The cases come after a former inmate who was transferred out of the facility Thursday tested positive for the virus.
Current inmates from the same housing unit were tested by staff nurses. Eight out of the 18 inmates from that housing unit tested positive but were not showing symptoms.
According to the news release, the Sheriff’s Office is testing every inmate in the facility and mask protocols are being followed and were being followed prior to the outbreak. The news release states that this is the first COVID-19 outbreak at the Linn County Jail.
Linn County Sheriff Jim Yon said the agency is waiting to hear back from the Oregon Health Authority to see if it will be helping out with getting the rest of the facility tested. The jail’s capacity is 230 and Yon said Friday’s number of inmates was 159.
“How big of an issue is this? That will dictate how we move forward in terms of isolation and other protocols,” Yon said in an phone interview.
The facility has been locked down since Thursday and will stay that way until all testing is completed. Yon said that the jail has been following isolation and quarantine regulations from state offices, and all inmates and employees must wear a mask in the building.
Up until now, there have only been a few cases of the virus in the jail — Yon estimates less than 10 since the beginning of the pandemic.
For now, there is limited movement in the facility. The inmates who have tested positive are remaining in their cells. Yon said different housing units rarely cross paths, so he’s hopeful the outbreak is contained.
“We’ve been very successful for 18 months. … We’re on top of it,” he said. “We’re monitoring all the conditions and any medical issues that could arise.”
Maddie Pfeifer covers public safety for Mid-Valley Media. She can be contacted at 541-812-6091 or Madison.Pfeifer@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter via @maddiepfeifer_