MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In a Twitter video update, a Shelby County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said all 160 detainees who tested positive for coronavirus in April have recovered.
The spokesperson said there are no known cases of COVID-19 in the jails right now, which includes jail east, 201 Poplar or the juvenile detention center.
But FOX13 Investigates found that the last time they did mass testing on inmates was April 25.
The sheriff’s office said there are no set plans on when they’ll mass test again.
On April 29, 160 inmates at 201 Poplar tested positive for coronavirus, and on May 29, a spokesperson said every inmate had fully recovered.
“160 detainees have tested positive for COVID-19,” an SCSO spokesperson said. “Zero detainees are hospitalized and all 160 have recovered. We have zero known cases at any of our facilities."
But community advocates said because the first round of mass testing was the only round of mass testing, that statement from a sheriff’s spokesman is far from promising.
“That’s just not an accurate statement by any measure, said Josh Spickler. “This pandemic has shown that jails, cruise ships, other crowded spaces are like a playground."
"To think our jail is exceptional is quite ludicrous. We don’t know how ludicrous it is because we haven’t tested it.”
Spickler is the Executive Director of the nonprofit Just City.
He said because there’s been no recent mass testing, there’s no way for inmates who are at-risk to protect themselves and that’s why a lawsuit was filed that requests medically vulnerable people and those with disabilities to be housed somewhere else.
“So, we’ve made that plea to the U.S. District Court, and we await a decision on whether we get that immediate quick release,” Spickler said. “Again, it’s not to just let people out with no checks and balances."
“Some of those releases may be to halfway houses, some may be monitoring of some sort, supervision of some sort," he said. "We’re not asking to throw the door jail open. We’re asking to protect very specific, very vulnerable people.”
So far, a decision hasn’t been reached on that lawsuit but FOX13 Investigates will closely track the suit.
FOX13 reached out to the sheriff’s office for comment.
A spokesperson said, “the cooperation in reducing the number of incarcerated people has been amazing. The numbers are reviewed daily.”
Monday, FOX13’s Leah Jordan asked if any high-risk inmates have been removed and if so, how many were removed, and where they are now.
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