Sheriff: Georgia jail employees gone due to virus, symptoms

By The Associated Press
Posted 3:53AM on Friday 31st July 2020 ( 2 weeks ago )

SUMMERVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A sheriff in Georgia says he’s scrambling to cover shifts at a jail after a majority of the facility’s employees contracted coronavirus, or are staying home due to symptoms.

“It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever experienced,” Chattooga County Sheriff Mark Schrader told the Chattanooga Times Free Press Thursday.

Schrader didn’t say how many employees have tested positive, but due to the shortage, he says he’s had to swap administrative workers and other officers to cover shifts at the county’s jail.

As of Thursday, inmates at the jail have not been tested for the virus. Schrader said the medical provider, ConnectHealth, told him they would not test them unless they show symptoms. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment by the newspaper.

“I kind of would like to get them tested, so we’ve been trying to reach outside the box and find a way to do that,” Schrader told the newspaper.

There have been nearly 1,170 confirmed coronavirus cases and 31 deaths among inmates in Georgia, according to data from The Marshall Project and The Associated Press. As of Thursday, there have also been about 170 confirmed coronavirus cases in Chattooga County, according to the state’s Health department.

Nearby sheriffs have offered Schrader help with the staffing issues, but he says he will only accept it in a worst-case scenario.

“We’re trying to work on containment and isolation issues,” Schrader said. “Right now we’re able to utilize our own personnel in an effort to not try to expose anyone that’s not been exposed.”

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