Corona Virus

Carter County Detention Center. KEVIN GOLDY | THE DAILY INDEPENDENT

GRAYSON At least 53 inmates were moved out of the Carter County Detention Center late last month by the Department of Corrections amid concerns about COVID-19, the department has confirmed.

Five women removed from the jail all tested positive for COVID-19 and are being held in quarantine at the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women located in Pee Wee Valley.

Lisa Lamb, a DOC spokesperson, said the inmates were removed on June 26 after one positive case and reports of symptomatic individuals, “coupled with the lack of information as to whether appropriate protocols were being followed.”

All inmates moved had already been sentenced to serve time in state prison. The 48 males were placed in the Roeder Correctional Complex, where they tested negative and are under quarantine, Lamb said.

Both the male and female populations will be retested and transferred to a jail following quarantine.

Carter County Jailer R.W. Boggs said his jail is trying to actively work with the state to “get this thing whooped.” He said the positive female inmates all shared the same living quarters and all inmates who came into contact with them have been tested.

The males were dispersed throughout various parts of the jail, Boggs confirmed.

Last week, The Daily Independent reported two deputy jailers tested positive for COVID-19 at the Carter County Detention Center. Boggs said anyone who came into contact with them were tested and placed in preventative quarantine. On Wednesday, Boggs said he was awaiting negative results for two deputies in order for them to return to work.

“The most important thing we get is the all-clear sign that the virus has been contained and gone,” he said.

Jessica Estes, a sister of one of the female inmates, said her loved one is suffering shortness of breath, fever and chills as a result of contracting COVID-19. Estes said her sister told her approximately 60 women are being held inside a gym at the women’s prison, with access to one toilet and being fed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches underneath the door.

Estes said she felt like her sister shouldn't have been moved, because her test results were not returned prior to the transfer.

Lamb confirmed the gym at KCIW is being used to temporarily house inmates when they first test positive until bed space is freed up in the prison. Lamb further stated the maximum capacity for the gym is 45 people. On Wednesday, 34 were moved out of the gym to a dormitory — the prison is currently divided into several wings, according Lamb.

One wing is for COVID-positive inmates, one wing is for COVID-negative inmates, another is reserved for those who tested negative but were exposed to the virus and another is reserved for those made vulnerable to the virus due to underlying health conditions, according to Lamb.

State Sen. Robin Webb (D-Grayson), said she's been working for the last 10 days on this issue.

“The state came and got all their inmates, so that's very unusual,” she said. “There's still county inmates there and federal inmates there, so I hope they got a handle on it and it's an anomaly. Those people are a part of my constituents like anyone else, so the state and myself as an elected official are responsible for taking care of them.”

Boggs said the reduced population allows for more space in the jail, which helps with social distancing. Jail Tracker, a website that lists all people currently held at the Carter County Detention Center, showed 111 inmates lodged as of Thursday.

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