CEDAR RAPIDS — A deputy sheriff who was assigned to the Linn County Correctional Center tested positive for the coronavirus, the sheriff’s office announced Monday.
Eleven other employees at the jail possibly were exposed to the virus and have been notified. However, they will continue to report for duty as essential services personnel as long as they remain asymptomatic per the Iowa Department of Public Health’s guidelines.
The employees will not be tested for the virus unless they are symptomatic. Heather Meador, with Linn County Public Health, said that with a limited amount of personal protective equipment, the county is not testing people who are asymptomatic. However, she said an increase in testing is needed to “look at the disease burden on our communities.”
No inmates were exposed to the virus by the infected deputy, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
“The health and safety of our employees and inmates are of paramount importance,” Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner said in a news release. “Although we have taken numerous steps to help reduce the chances of the COVID-19 virus affecting our operations, an exposure to the virus was still a possibility. We will continue to follow the guidance and protocol of our public health professionals to help ensure the virus does not spread throughout the facility.”
The deputy, who is unidentified, last worked Thursday. His temperature was taken when he arrived to work; he was fever-free. Near the end of his shift, he left work when he became symptomatic with a 102-degree fever.
The deputy has since tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, and he is self-isolating.
The deputy was working on the first floor of the Correctional Center in intake.
Administration at the Correctional Center has been working with the court system to reduce the number of inmates in custody and limit the number of new inmates brought to jail.
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The sheriff’s office worked with Linn County Public Health’s contact tracing process to identify who might have been exposed to the virus. Exposure means that a person was within six feet of the infected person for more than two minutes.
The Correctional Center is taking the temperature of everyone entering the facility. All employees and visitors now are required to wear a face mask when in the secure area of the Correctional Center.
Face masks are being provided to all inmates. While they are not required to wear them, they are being strongly encouraged to do so.
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