Virus outbreak in Seattle jail sends 16 inmates to isolation

The King County Jail in downtown Seattle experienced its first COVID-19 outbreak believed to have originated inside the facility, sending 16 inmates into medical isolation, according to the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention.

The Seattle Times reports an inmate who tested negative for the coronavirus when booked into the jail over a month ago reported having flu-like symptoms on Sunday, says a news release issued Monday. That person tested positive for the virus.

Jail staff tested 69 other inmates in the same area of the jail, and 15 of them also tested positive, despite being asymptomatic. Those with positive test results were transferred to the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent and are in medical isolation, along with four inmates who previously tested positive, officials said.

The 54 people who tested negative for the coronavirus Sunday have been placed into quarantine, according to officials.

Jail officials have undertaken “aggressive decontamination measures” of the affected areas and initiated contact tracing to identify anyone who may also have been exposed, the news release says.

Prior to Sunday’s outbreak, the two jails had reported 47 confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

East of the Cascades, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office said it will temporarily close to the public starting Tuesday because of a COVID-19 outbreak affecting four members of their corrections division. There are no reported cases “with any inmates,” a news release from the sheriff’s office said.

The Washington State Department of Health on Monday announced 6,972 new cases throughout the state, but said that number includes both a backlog of COVID-19 positive lab test results received over the weekend and about 1,800 duplicates that have not yet been resolved.

The high number of cases reported is also due to catching up from a backlog created by temporary system slowdowns last week as servers were upgraded, health officials said. The estimated 1,800 duplicate cases in Monday’s total case counts will be removed from the dataset in the future as the department catches up on that process.