Three out of 28 booked inmates at the Blaine County jail tested positive for COVID-19 on July 5, Blaine County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Will Fruehling confirmed via email this week.
Fruehling said the jail had not recorded any further positive tests as of Tuesday, July 12, and the three subjects who tested positive “had only mild symptoms and were quarantined.”
Fruehling said that the jail will continue to accept new inmates from neighboring counties and continue inmate programming. Visitation through glass will continue, as it presents low COVID transmission risk, he said.
The Blaine County Sheriff’s Office previously suspended in-person visits and regular inmate programming to prevent the spread of COVID at the start of the pandemic.
“Generally [visits are] done via video on a tablet or in-person—what we call a ‘non-contact’ visit through glass,” Fruehling said. “The visitation room has a glass window which separates the inmate from the visitor.”
Masks and temperature checks are not currently required, he said.
Fruehling added that inmate programs and in-house classes continue to operate, but the facility has been “challenged finding providers to facilitate the different programs, as most did not return after the programs were suspended during the height of COVID.”
The Blaine County jail has a bed capacity of 90, with 20 beds in a segregated dorm for inmates with work-release privileges and four in a separate dorm for juveniles.
According to the UNC Health and Justice Research Lab, most of the country’s largest single-site outbreaks since the onset of the pandemic have been in correctional settings.
In Idaho, around 6,680 inmates, or 9% of the 71,620 tested, and 730 jail staff have tested positive for COVID since the start of the pandemic, according to the lab. The state has confirmed five COVID-related deaths in jails across the state. ￼
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