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SF County jail inmate tests positive for COVID-19

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

An inmate at Santa Fe County Adult Detention Center tested positive for COVID-19 Sunday, the first positive test result at the facility since the crisis began.

The inmate, 38, had been tested previously in late March, but the first test came back negative, a news release issued by Santa Fe County states. He was tested again April 7 after reporting he still did not feel well, and the result came back five days later.

County spokeswoman Carmelina Hart said he was one of nine inmates tested at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe.

He has been quarantined since last week.

The county called the Department of Health to the jail Monday to test 33 other inmates and eight staff members who had contact with him, Hart said. The results of those tests are expected in a couple of days, she said.

The inmate lived in a dorm-style pod with the 33 other inmates, Hart said.

She said the inmate was first booked at the jail July 14, 2019, months before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, asked whether another person brought the virus into the jail, Hart said it is not known how the inmate contracted the virus.

“We are looking at all possible leads,” she wrote in a text message.

Hart said that the county is deep-cleaning the jail and that all inmates are now wearing masks.

Public Defender Jennifer Burrill, who herself tested positive for the virus last month, said the inmate was being represented by the Law Office of the Public Defender. She said she learned of the positive test from state District Judge T. Glenn Ellington, who said during a hearing Monday that the jail had three positive tests. However, Hart said there is still only one positive test so far.

Ellington’s office did not return requests for comment by press time.

Of the eight staff members tested, Hart said, six are county employees and two are food vendors.

Burrill said the workers coming in and out of the jail providing services make it hard to control the spread of the virus.

“There’s no way to entirely lock down the jail,” she said.

COVID-19 cases have also been reported at Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center and at Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Otero County Processing Center.

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