Spokane Co. Jail reports no COVID-19 outbreaks among inmates, staff

SPOKANE, Wash. — Several jails across Idaho and Washington have reported COVID-19 outbreaks. Spokane County Jail is not one of those.

According to the jail staff, only two inmates and two employees have tested positive for the virus. However, they said the inmates came into the jail with COVID-19.

One person was taken to jail after being put on a Civil Health Hold issued by the county’s medical officer Dr. Bob Lutz. The second person was arrested for DUI and admitted to having the virus after he was in the jail.

The jail has several precautions in place, which they believe has helped with their success.

“If they were symptomatic or we thought they would potentially be symptomatic based on their charts, we have a couple of negative airflow cells that we move them to immediately,” said Mike Sparber, director of the jail. “If they were not exhibiting any signs, we would move them to our intake floor.”

The airflow jail cells are different from the general airflow.

“Instead of having air blow into the cell, it’s actually circulated in a separate system,” Sparber explained, “and so that it doesn’t blow immediately into the cell and it’s circulated into our main air system, which would carry on to the other cells.”

If the person is staying at the jail, they’re sent to another floor and must be in quarantine for 14 days. After that, Sparber said they can be taken to the general population of the jail. If they’re not staying long-term, they’re still put into quarantine. The only way to get out before the 14-day period is if the court system releases them before the last day of quarantine.

The empty cells used for the quarantine is available because the release of inmates. Sparber said this freed up the cells to house people for the 14-day period.

Sparber said a lot of people come in and say they have the virus or have been exposed. However, all of those tests have been negative, he said.

The employees who tested positive were immediately put on leave in order to quarantine. He said the staff members got the virus from a family member.

“I think that quite frankly we’ve been lucky,” Sparber said.

READ: Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Spokane Co. stay below triple digits for fourth consecutive day

READ: 225 inmates, 54 employees at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center test positive for COVID-19