(Update: Inmates who tested positive showing minor symptoms, isolated in a housing unit; vaccines regularly offered)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A COVID-19 outbreak at the Deschutes County Jail grew over the weekend to include 13 inmates who are displaying minor symptoms and being isolated in a housing unit, a sheriff's office spokesman said Monday.
The initial report of five inmates on one housing unit who had tested positive grew by two more cases Friday and six more by Saturday, Sgt. Jayson Janes said Saturday.
"They tested 20 people this morning, and some came back positive," the sergeant said.
On Monday afternoon, he provided further details:
"The inmates that have tested positive are being isolated within a housing unit. The inmates are displaying minor symptoms, and are not requiring a higher level of care. They are being evaluated daily by jail medical RNs with care including vital signs, symptom assessments and over-the-counter medications.
"The other inmates that have been in contact with the COVID positive inmates are currently in quarantine, and being monitored and retested as recommended by Deschutes County Public Health.
"Since April, the jail has offered multiple COVID vaccine clinics to inmates in the facility in partnership with Deschutes County Public Health. We continue to extend the ability for Deschutes County Public Health to come to the jail every other week offering first and second doses of the vaccine to inmates. Each time Deschutes County Public Health responds to the jail, there are approximately 10 inmates receiving the vaccine bi-weekly. Any inmate is able to request vaccination, at no charge to them.
Jail Medical Director Eden Aldrich said: "Since the beginning of the pandemic the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Jail has been following all recommendations from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and Deschutes County Public Health. As this more transmissible variant has made it into our facility, we continue with regular communication with the OHA, CDC, and Deschutes County Public Health and will make changes to infection control procedures as recommended by these experts."
Janes said Saturday other inmates who may have been exposed were in quarantine.
"We are continuing to monitor the inmates," he told NewsChannel 21. "We are adapting to the situation daily, in order to minimize the spread throughout the facility."
Janes said the jail staff have been following Oregon Health Authority and federal Center for Disease Control guidelines throughout the pandemic.
"We have also been doing enhanced cleaning the entire time," he added.
Five inmates in one housing unit of the jail tested positive last week were the first inmate cases apparently contracted at the facility since the pandemic began.
Tuesday evening, an inmate was displaying symptoms of COVID, Janes said. The inmate, along with the other inmates in the housing unit, were all tested for COVID. Five of the seven inmates in that housing unit tested positive for COVID, Janes said.
Throughout the pandemic, Janes said, the county jail "has been following Centers for Disease Control and Oregon Health Authority guidelines and taking necessary precautions for infection control in an attempt to keep COVID out of the facility."
There have been several staff COVID-19 outbreaks at county jails, including a late-July workplace outbreak at the Bend jail involving three jail staff and three of their family members, according to the OHA's weekly outbreaks report.
Janes said last month no inmates had contracted the virus in jail since the pandemic began.
The jail, built in 1994 to hold 452 inmates, had 203 inmates as of Wednesday, a reduced number to allow for distancing.
In addition, each inmate has their temperature checked upon arrival and is placed in five-day quarantine if symptoms are present. Visitations have been taking place by video only.
"If an inmate arrives that is symptomatic and they need to be held in the jail, they will be isolated and monitored by our medical staff," Janes said.