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COVID reaches into Washington County Jail

Washington County Jail

Four inmates at the Washington County Jail have tested positive for coronavirus and are in quarantine now.

FORT EDWARD — Four inmates have tested positive for coronavirus at the Washington County Jail, which until now had never had a case.

It started with three Saratoga County Jail inmates who were sent to the Washington County Jail a month ago, when a COVID outbreak began at the Saratoga County Jail.

“They wanted to board out their healthy guys,” said Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy. “Those are the only board-ins we’ve taken. It was kind of an emergency situation for them.”

Washington County took in seven inmates, and all seven passed a COVID test and showed no symptoms during quarantine.

“When Saratoga County came to get them last week, we had them tested again,” Murphy said.

Although they still had no symptoms, five tested positive with the rapid COVID test. The PCR test confirmed three of the infections. The inmates were quarantined, and on Friday every inmate and staff member was tested. None tested positive.

But on Sunday, an inmate developed COVID symptoms and tested positive.

Murphy is planning to retest everyone else.

He does not think the Saratoga County inmates brought COVID to the jail.

“We had these guys for 25 days,” he said.

All staff wear masks at all times, and the inmates wear masks when they leave their cells.

“We’re making them wear a mask if they’re out of their cell,” he said, adding that they have generally been agreeable during the pandemic. “They’ve been good. They’re wearing a mask.”

Inmates also aren’t allowed visitors — they get extra phone calls instead — and aren’t allowed to travel beyond their pod.

But in their cells, they are close together.

Inmate Daniel Latterell of Hudson Falls, who is in jail after pleading guilty to violating an order of protection, asked a relative to pass on his complaints about the situation. He said that in the cell block, bunk beds are only 4 feet apart and no one wore a mask until the recent positive cases.

He has a noncancerous tumor in his chest and is worried about his health. He said he’s scared and blames the Saratoga County inmates, whom he said brought in the virus.

At the Warren County Jail, inmates are also being offered masks but aren’t wearing them, said Sheriff Jim LaFarr.

“To be honest, I’m not aware of any who are choosing to wear masks,” he said.

But only one inmate has tested positive for coronavirus. That person tested positive while in quarantine after arriving at the jail, and stayed in isolation until he recovered.

Jail staff wear masks at all times, he said. A few have tested positive over the course of the year. All of them have now been offered the vaccine.

Last week, Warren County Health Services vaccinated 30 inmates, but the rest declined the vaccine. There are 109 inmates at the Warren County Jail and about 80 at the Washington County Jail.

You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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Related to this story

Approximately 38 inmates and nine staff members at the Fulton County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19, part of an ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus at the facility for the past two weeks.

Washington County may not be getting off the Vermont quarantine any time soon, after a surge in cases at Washington Correctional Facility and hundreds of prisoners at Great Meadow awaiting test results after showing symptoms.

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