As test results arrive, one staff member at the St. Mary’s detention center has tested positive for COVID-19, according to state health department data.
All of the inmate test results from the jail’s universal screening initiative, which took place last week, have tested negative, and most jail staff tests have returned negative barring the one positive staff case and another result pending, according to sheriff’s office spokesperson Cpl. Julie Yingling.
“We don’t expect [the pending case] to be positive, but we didn’t expect the other one either,” she said.
The one positive case was unexpected, as the staff member was asymptomatic, Yingling said, and as a result, that staff member and anyone who came in contact with them are in isolation.
“Luckily, due to [the positive staff member’s] assignment, they were not in contact with many inmates or other staff members,” Yingling said.
The test results became publicly available on Wednesday, shortly followed by an announcement from Gov. Larry Hogan (R) that all state-run correctional facilities would implement universal testing.
At the state level, several prisons have faced COVID-19 outbreaks, with 58 positive cases at the Jessup Correctional Institution in Anne Arundel County. Five prison inmates have died of COVID-19 in the state’s prisons, according to data from the state’s department of corrections.
Fears of an outbreak at the St. Mary’s detention center in the early weeks of the pandemic prompted attorneys to request several clients’ early release from the jail, where inmates serve brief sentences of up to 18 months.
Yingling attributed the detention center’s low numbers to its high supply of personal protective equipment and proactive measures to prevent an outbreak at the facility. At the sheriff’s office and the detention center, employees and visitors are having their temperatures taken by an infrared thermometer when they enter.
She said the St. Mary’s County Adult Detention Center was also the first in the state to implement universal testing.