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Two more MDC inmates test positive for COVID-19

A sign in front of the Metropolitan Detention Center late last month announcing that inmates are not all owed to have visitors. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Two people who were recently booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center have tested positive for COVID-19, according to documents obtained by the Journal.

That makes for a total of three MDC inmates who have tested positive for the virus. The most recent inmates, a man and a woman, have already been released from the jail, a Bernalillo County spokesman said.

Defense attorney Christopher Dodd filed a public records request to Bernalillo County regarding how many inmates have been tested and how many of those tests were positive for COVID-19. He got the records Tuesday and shared them with the Journal.

Dodd said he made the request because he was skeptical that the jail was providing accurate information regarding coronavirus testing. He was also curious why Bernalillo County never announced the new test results.

“I am concerned that they didn’t inform the public about these two additional positive tests,” Dodd told the Journal on Tuesday. “I would like to see more transparency from the government.”

Bernalillo County spokesman Larry Gallegos said the man, who was already confirmed positive for COVID-19 by the state Department of Health, was booked on a misdemeanor charge April 23 and released the next day.

The woman was arrested in McKinley County and was brought to MDC on April 18 on a Bernalillo County warrant before being released April 23. She was tested at the jail after she said a family member tested positive for COVID-19. Her results came back the day after she was released, Gallegos said.

Gallegos said neither of the inmates was placed in general population. They were instead held in a negative pressure room, where air is not circulated to the rest of the jail, until their release. Neither person contracted the virus at the jail, he said.

Gallegos said he didn’t know why the county never informed the public about the additional positive tests.

“I’m not sure, to be totally honest with you,” Gallegos said.

The test results come as defense attorneys try to get their clients released from jails and prisons to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Advocates and defense lawyers have filed an emergency petition seeking to greatly reduce the state’s prison population, which the state Supreme Court is expected to hear next week.

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