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Deputy sheriff assigned to Linn County jail has tested positive for COVID-19

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2019 novel coronavirus — CDC

A deputy sheriff assigned to the Linn County Correctional Center has tested positive for COVID-19. The deputy sheriff last worked the evening shift on Thursday, April 16, and the Linn County Sheriff’s Office learned of the positive test on Sunday, April 19.

The deputy arrived to work on Thursday without a fever but left with a 102-degree fever, according to a news release. The deputy was assigned as one of the first-floor booking or intake deputies at the time he became symptomatic.

Linn County Public Health has been working with jail administration to conduct contact tracing — identifying and contacting individuals the employee might have spread the virus to. LCPH has notified 11 coworkers and determined no inmates were exposed by the infected deputy.

The 11 employees can continue to go to work as long as they remain asymptomatic, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health’s guidance for essential workers.

According to IDPH, “Essential services personnel are allowed to go to work as long as they remain asymptomatic and monitor their temperature at the beginning and end of their shift.”

The jail administration took steps last month to reduce the number of inmates in custody and limit the number of people brought to the jail. In an email to Little Village last month, Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner sent a list of 14 measures the jail has implemented.

Among these measures is the screening of individuals coming into the jail, cleaning the jail more frequently, not accepting any defendants who have scheduled or want to schedule their jail time until after May 4, and releasing all work release inmates in custody. Inmate visitation has been canceled since March 22.

According to the news release, these steps lessened the number of inmates who the deputy would have interacted with. Two more thorough sanitation procedures have been conducted since the employee went home sick.

The deputy has been advised to remain in self-isolation until he meets IDPH’s guidelines for coming back to work.

Stay home and isolate from others in the house until:

• You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use medicine that reduces fevers)
AND

• other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)
AND

• at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared

All employees and visitors are now required to wear a face mask when in the secure area of the jail. Face masks are also being provided to all inmates. Inmates are strongly encouraged to wear the masks but are not required to.

On Saturday, the Iowa Department of Corrections (IDOC) reported the first case of a prisoner in Iowa testing positive for the virus. The prisoner is incarcerated at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville, better known as Oakdale Prison.

Oakdale was also the site of the first confirmed case in COVID-19 in Iowa’s prison system, when a correctional officer tested positive for the virus on April 10. During Gov. Reynolds’ press conference on Monday, IDOC Director Beth Skinner announced a second member of Oakdale’s staff has tested positive for the virus.

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