SAEGERTOWN — Crawford County Correctional Facility is dealing with two COVID-19 cases among inmates, Warden Jack Greenfield confirmed to the Tribune late Tuesday morning.
None of the jail’s 83 full- and part-time staff have tested positive for the coronavirus, he added.
Greenfield said the inmates, both men, have been quarantined in separate cells away from the general population since earlier this month.
One inmate was booked into the jail Jan. 2 and told jail staff that he had tested positive, Greenfield said. The Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed the test to staff and the inmate has been quarantined since his arrival per the jail's COVID-19 protocol.
A second already-incarcerated inmate began exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms Jan. 6, Greenfield said. That inmate was placed in a quarantine cell and tested for the coronavirus that day. Those test result became known Saturday.
The two inmates are housed in separate negative air pressure cells.
"Most jails have negative air flow cells to prevent the spread of TB," Greenfield said.
TB (tuberculosis) is an infectious disease that mainly affects lungs. The bacteria that cause tuberculosis are spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes.
Per the jail's COVID-19 protocol, each inmate must be quarantined for at least 21 days and must test negative for the coronavirus before being released into the general population, according to Greenfield.
Each inmate will be tested again one day prior to his respective anticipated release into general population.
Those tests will be done at the jail by PrimeCare Medical staff, the jail's medical provider, Greenfield said. The inmates will be tested using one of 3,000 instant check COVID-19 testing kits that arrived at the jail this week.
While the Jan. 2 inmate was a known COVID-19 positive case who was placed in quarantine upon entry, the warden said it's unknown how the other inmate contracted the virus.
"I wish I knew," Greenfield said. "We take a lot of precautions and have done well to keep it at bay. We knew sooner or later we'd get it. It could have come from a non-symptomatic staff member. We just don't know."
Greenfield added that the majority of jail staff have received the first of two COVID-19 vaccination shots. Some staff are scheduled to receive their second round of vaccination in the coming days.
In early April, there was a concern that 11 inmates at the jail in Saegertown had contracted COVID-19, but test results all came back negative.
All 11 inmates were in general housing units and had exhibited fevers during the routine twice-daily in-cell health checks by nursing staff. Those inmates were tested, but weren't moved from their cells at the time to avoid a potential spread of the virus. It wasn't determined if it was a food-borne illness or some other cause.
Later in April, a jail employee who didn't have direct contact with inmates did test positive for COVID-19 and was quarantined.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.