More than half of all inmates at the Twin Falls County jail have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a spokeswoman for the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office.

A total of 132 people who are housed in or work at the Twin Falls jail—125 inmates and seven employees—tested positive for the virus in the past two weeks, spokeswoman Lori Stewart told the Idaho Mountain Express.

All inmates and staff received tests after an inmate tested positive for the virus on July 17; testing found that 117 inmates and 48 employees did not have the virus, with six inmates receiving inconclusive test results.

Just 10 of the infected inmates have shown symptoms, Stewart said, and one has been hospitalized.

The Blaine County jail resumed accepting inmates from other county jails in early June after temporarily halting the practice in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but put a freeze on receiving out-of-county inmates again about three weeks ago when surrounding counties—including Twin Falls—began to see an uptick in coronavirus cases, Sheriff Steve Harkins said.

“We are currently not accepting any out of county inmates from any facility and continue to monitor what’s happening in our county and surrounding areas,” Harkins told the Mountain Express.

Twin Falls has not sent any of its inmates to other jails, including Blaine, in “several months,” Stewart said.

There are a number of inmates in the Blaine County jail who were arrested and sentenced in Twin, according to the online jail roster. But the majority of those inmates are state prisoners in Idaho Department of Correction custody, and all appear to have arrived at the Blaine County jail prior to mid-March, when the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Idaho.

There are not currently any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Blaine County jail, Harkins said. Three inmates were tested for the virus during unrelated visits to St. Luke’s, he said, but all three tests came back negative.

Email the writer: gkauffman@mtexpress.com

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