LAPORTE — After successfully dodging the coronavirus for the past nine and half months, LaPorte County Jail is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases, with 43 inmates infected so far, an official said.
The infection rate amounted to 13% of the jail population as of Wednesday morning, and 95 other inmates, who have tested negative so far, are being quarantined after being exposed to a positive inmate, said Derek J. Allen, administrative captain and public information officer with the LaPorte County Sheriff's Department.
"No, there have not been any hospitalizations or deaths for any of our inmates as the result of COVID," he said in response to an inquiry from The Times.
The spread of the virus followed a recent positive test result from a single inmate, Allen said. There were 326 inmates at the facility as of Wednesday morning.
"Inmates are provided with a mask when there is a need for them to move throughout the jail and outside of their assigned cell block," he said. "Posters have been placed throughout the cell blocks reminding inmates to utilize good hygiene practices."
The Times inquired about the situation at the jail after receiving a tip about the outbreak and claims that there is a lack of hand sanitizer and a failure among inmates to wear masks.
Allen said when the pandemic began early last year, the jail administration implemented measures to keep it out of the facility or slow its spread. These steps included screening and quarantining incoming inmates for 14 days, continued monitoring of inmate health and mandated mask wearing among jail staff.
"All inmate workers were issued masks and gloves and required to wear them during their work assignments," Allen said. "Cleaning supplies, such as sanitation wipes and hand sanitizer, were provided to the inmates daily."
Inmate movement throughout the jail also was greatly reduced, he said.
"The Jail Administration and their staff have done a tremendous job working through this uncharted territory of the pandemic to maintain the health and safety of every inmate in the LaPorte County Jail," Allen said.