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Coronavirus in Salt Lake jails
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Dave & Dujanovic: Sheriff talks about coronavirus in Salt Lake County jails

Prisoners playing chess behind prison bars. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY — Coronavirus is now behind bars at Salt Lake County jails.

Six inmates and seven employees have tested positive for COVID-19, according to County Sheriff Rosie Rivera.

Sheriff Rivera joined Debbie Dujanovic and Dave Noriega to talk about the outbreak’s impact on prisoners and staff.

Infected inmates moved to Metro Jail

“What does the outbreak look like in the jails?” Dave asked.

Rivera said the outbreak started in the Oxbow Jail in South Salt Lake.

“We have since moved all of the inmates who have tested positive over to the Metro Jail,” the sheriff said. “That is where our medical team is. And we have the capability to quarantine everyone in a single cell. So anyone who had to be quarantined because of the positive cases has been moved to the Metro Jail.”

“Are we looking at serious cases here? Are we looking at initial symptoms or have they deteriorated and become much more severe?” Dave asked.

“We don’t have severe cases,” Rivera assured. “We have some employees who have also tested positive, and they also have symptoms. They’re not in our facilities. They are at home quarantining. They are some of our sworn members as well as our civilian staff,” she said.

Staffing sufficient, sheriff says

“Are you growing concerned that you may run out of guards?” Debbie asked.

“We have a large force. So seven is an impact but not a significant impact. We can still operate the same way that we were,” the sheriff said. “We also have a great medical team. That’s the fortunate part. We can single cell everyone and take care of the prisoners.”

“What does testing look like and how are you going to conduct it?” Dave asked.

She said six more prisoners are pending tests and the results are delivered quickly.

“As soon as we find out, that’s when we will be able to make a decision on where to quarantine them in our jail or if they go to the medical unit,” the sheriff said.

Rivera also said employees are being tested if they show the signs and symptoms.

“There’s no priority for the law enforcement. They are treated just like anybody else would be. So sometimes that takes a little bit longer,” she said.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

State of Utah:

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line 18004567707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play