MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Health Department reported 266 people at 201 Poplar have been tested for COVID-19.
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155 inmates tested positive, and 37 employees tested positive.
According to experts, the virus found a footing in the jail where social distancing is difficult, and the county should’ve expected it.
FOX 13 talked to the wife of one inmate who said her husband believes he may have the virus.
She said her husband appears to have trouble breathing when they talk over the phone but has not gotten tested.
A criminal justice reform advocate told FOX13 all inmates need to get tested soon because the spread of the virus inside the jail was bound to happen.
FOX13 saw employees leave 201 Poplar with masks on to help protect them from catching and spreading COVID-19.
Inside the jail, new tests show more than 150 detainees have the coronavirus after 266 detainees and staff were examined.
“We knew those particular populations are very vulnerable for very different reasons. They are in facilities that are in very close proximity to one another and we know COVID spreads very easily,” said Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter.
Criminal justice reform advocate Josh Spickler with Just City told FOXX13 an outbreak like this was expected.
“We cannot control a virus in a jail, but we can control who is in that jail,” Spickler said.
That’s why he has been advocating for the early release of non-violent offenders who can’t afford bail as worried families of inmates call him.
“It is what you would expect if someone you love was on a cruise ship or a nursing home or somewhere like that. People are scared,” he said.
Mika Baskin’s husband is in jail awaiting trial for murder. He told her he has symptoms of the virus.
“He said he was having chills, aches, and pains. His head was hurting,” she said.
But Baskin said her husband has not been tested for COVID-19.
Baskin said she is worried and so is Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner.
“Everyone is struggling with this now because of the close proximity that all the inmates have. it’s very difficult,” said Bonner.
The health director said more tests will be conducted this week.
Josh Spickler told FOX13 he believes the number of positive results among detainees and employees will increase.
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