Georgia National Guard testing Lowndes County Jail inmates

Published: May. 11, 2020 at 5:34 PM EDT
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By: Amber Spradley | WCTV Eyewitness News

May 11, 2020

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) – Out of an abundance of caution, the Georgia Army National Guard is testing all inmates at the Lowndes County Jail for coronavirus, starting Monday.

This comes after three employees at the Sheriff's Office next door tested positive.

So far, no positive cases have been reported at the jail, and Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk says he wants to keep it that way.

To be safe, he called on the National Guard for help.

“It’s the Sheriff’s responsibility to make sure they’re safe and taken care of medically,” Sheriff Paulk said.

Due to things like court closures and probation violation forgiveness during the pandemic, the jail population is down from its average 600-650 inmates. But that’s still about 500 people the Sheriff’s Office is tasked with keeping safe.

“We should get about 200 today, and then we’re gonna try and get the last 300 tomorrow for a total of about 500 inmates,” Lowndes County Jail’s Captain Jason Clifton said.

They say results should be in near the end of the week. Anyone testing positive will be placed in negative airflow rooms originally built in the 1990’s for tuberculosis.

“When those rooms are running and you put somebody in there, the air does not come out of the room and contaminate other areas. It goes out into the atmosphere,” Captain Clifton said.

He says only a handful out of the 200 inmates on Monday refused to test. Anyone not tested will be isolated in a cell for 14 days and treated as though they're COVID-19-positive.

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