Greenup County Jailer Mike Worthington. EMILY PORTER | THE DAILY INDEPENDENT

There were new cases of COVID-19 reported at the Greenup County Detention Center this week, with six female inmates and one new employee testing positive.
Greenup County Jailer Mike Worthington said the jail has taken every precaution recommended by the CDC and state guidelines, and has even gone beyond those. Worthington said one of the challenges in responding to the pandemic is that many people show no signs of being sick.
“People come in and you might not even know they are sick for 10 days,” Worthington said.
One of the protocols Worthington said the jail follows is when a new prisoner is brought in, that prisoner is placed in quarantine, ideally for two weeks. But this poses problems in itself in smaller detention centers, especially when there is an influx of new prisoners. With the new cases, Worthington said that those prisoners are isolated in one section of the jail. “When you get it in one section, when it shows itself, you can do a better job of containing it. But once it gets in, your options are limited,” Worthington said.
The Greenup Detention Center maintains strict cleaning procedures, Worthington said.
“We have scrubbed, and cleaned, and sanitized, and the jail is the cleanest it has ever been. It’s probably the cleanest place in the country,” he said.
But the reality of it is, Worthington pointed out, that once it does get in, especially into a place such as a detention center, sometimes the only option is to ride it out. And the jail has been forced to do just that, but fortunately (until the newest cases) everyone has managed to recover, with the deputies returning to work. Worthington himself contracted COVID-19, even going so far as to require hospitalization and treatment, but he also has recovered and is back on the job.
The insidious nature of the disease is part of the problem with controlling it, Worthington said. Testing each prisoner isn’t always a foolproof means of protection.
“We have had some that didn’t even know they had it, until we tested them, and found out they had already gotten over it,” he said. “And people believing that you need to have some health issue before you get it just isn’t true. There is no rhyme or reason to it – anyone can get it.”
Worthington said he is confident that the jail will get through it, but he said there is some concern about the “immunity” of having survived COVID-19 preventing reinfection. “From what I understand, the immunity is about three months before you can catch it again,” Worthington said. “But there is always the possibility of, after you get through the first wave, then how long will it be until it hits you again?
“But we are following all the guidelines, and even doing more than what the guidelines recommend,” Worthington said. “We have had the antibody tests for while, too. But if you test negative one day, you can still test positive the next day or two. It is hard to keep up with, but we are doing everything we possibly can.”
“Everyone needs to take this seriously,” Worthington said.

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