COVID-19 outbreak affects 18 at the Pinellas County Jail

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office reports an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Pinellas County Jail.

Within the last couple of days there have been 13 staff members and five inmates test positive for COVID-19.

Image/CDC

The staff members are predominately from Inmate Records and deputies working in North Division. All five inmates who have tested positive were housed in C Barracks and those inmates are now in respiratory isolation.

There are another 14 jail employees with test results pending. All 30 day shift Inmate Records members are on home quarantine.

“We now, unfortunately, have a big problem at the jail,” Gualtieri told the Pinellas County Commission during Thursday’s meeting. “We’re going to have to make significant changes over there.”

Gualtieri said Thursday there is no evidence to show the virus is connected to the jailed protesters. Rather, his guess is that a staff member brought the virus into the facility.

To curb the spread of COVID-19 in the jail, the Pinellas County Jail is immediately implementing the following measures:

  • No inmates will be transported to the courthouse and all court appearances will be by videoconferencing.
  • Judges have been asked to refrain from remanding defendants to custody, but when necessary the defendants will be transported with a mask via compound transport van.
  • No inmates will be transported to the Florida Department of Corrections or any other correctional facilities.
  • Law enforcement agencies are being asked to refer all misdemeanor cases to the State Attorney’s Office or issue notices to appear and not make physical arrests except for those charged with domestic violence, violations of injunctions or people who are threat to public safety.
  • Law enforcement agencies are requested not to arrest anyone on a misdemeanor warrant unless it involves domestic violence or a violation of an injunction. Officers and deputies will tell the person to report to the jail and purge the warrant by paying the bond. If a person is arrested on a misdemeanor warrant we will contact the duty judge and seek to have the person released on their own recognizance.
  • All DDC members, county staff, and contract staff are required to wear a cloth or surgical mask while in the jail. N95 masks shall be worn by members in the presence of inmates with suspected or known positive results.
  • All inmates will be issued and required to wear a mask when leaving their housing area or having direct contact with staff. All inmates may wear masks in their housing units.
  • Inmate commissary is sanitized before it arrives at the jail and distribution will occur only by jail staff.
  • Social workers will communicate with inmates through the inmate kiosk system.
  • Chaplain staff will communicate with inmates through the inmate kiosk system.

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