ASHVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — St. Clair County Jail is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, according to Sheriff Billy Murray.
In a post on social media, Sheriff Murray announced that the St. Clair County Jail, located in Ashville, has successfully tested all staff and inmates. Of those tested, 37 inmates and one correctional officer tested positive for the virus.
“All available precautions are being followed to isolate and observe positive tested inmates,” Murray said in the statement.
COVID outbreaks in jails and prisons have been documented across the country over the last year. The University of Minnesota, for example, outlined four different peer-reviewed studies documenting surges in jails and prisons across the U.S.
Based on the numbers, almost one fourth of the inmates at the jail have COVID-19. Residents in the area are worried the spread could go outside the jail walls.
“Anybody in the jail, coming out with it. Employees… and everything like that,” resident Lecresha Turner said.
People are still processing the COVID-19 outbreak at the county jail.
“That’s unbelievable,” Turner said.
But experts and some residents aren’t surprised it happened based on the recent rise in cases.
“That we would see outbreaks in congregated settings or in other situations where there are larger groups of people together. I am not surprised at all,” ADPH Health Officer Dr. Karen Landers said.
“You can’t stay 6 feet away in a jail cell. So… and you can’t stay in a mask all day long either,” Morning Dove said.
And for someone who has had their own battle with the virus, Dove understands what these prisoners are going through health wise.
“But our chest still… we still have problems with our chest where it feels like a horse kicked you,” Dove said.
Dr. Landers says part of the Department of Public Health’s investigation will take into account if inmates and jail personnel have been vaccinated. She says while spread is possible around a group of vaccinated individuals, those unvaccinated are still at high risk.
“Giving the situation that we have now, I think that it’s expected that we are going to see more of this, especially given our low rate of vaccination in our state,” Dr. Landers said.
She encourages people to take events like this into consideration and get the vaccine.
“This really is the way that we can get this under control in the state of Alabama,” Dr. Landers said.
CBS 42 has reached out to the St. Clair County Commission about the situation and are still waiting comment.