UINTAH COUNTY, Utah, March 27, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The TriCounty Health Department on Friday confirmed its first documented case of COVID-19, and it was revealed that the patient had been an inmate in the Uintah County Jail until 11 days ago.
“There has been speculation that the individual contracted COVID-19 in the Uintah County Jail,” says a news release issued Friday afternoon.
The statement presents facts to dispute any assertion that the patient was sick while incarcerated, which could have led to other inmates and guards being exposed to COVID-19.
The rest of the statement appears below:
These are the facts based on jail records and my conversations with TriCounty Health Department officials:
The individual was in the Uintah County Jail for more than four months before being released on March 16, 2020. He had no symptoms upon release.
The individual told TriCounty Health he visited friends in Salt Lake County on March 23, 2020.
Upon returning to Uintah County, he was seen by a healthcare provider on March 25*, 2020, for symptoms associated with COVID-19. (March *25 is a correction requested by the source. The original release said March 24.)
On March 27, 2020, TriCounty Health announced the positive test result.
The individual is now quarantined and recovering at home.
In speaking with TriCounty Health officials, they are confident the individual would have shown symptoms before March 25*, if he had been exposed to COVID-19 in the jail.
To reiterate, this individual did not develop symptoms of COVID-19 for more than a week after being released from jail and after visiting Salt Lake County.
The sheriff’s office has taken COVID-19 seriously and has taken several proactive steps to mitigate the risk of exposure for staff and inmates.
In a previous release I outlined how the courts and judges have taken a serious look at who could be released from jail. With the extra room the jail has, we have been able to segregate housing units so there is no cross-contamination or interaction between housing units.
Volunteers have not been allowed in the jail since March 13, 2020. On March 14, 2020 any inmate movement between housing units stopped completely.
Jail staff are checked for symptoms of COVID-19 before entering the jail for their shifts.
Individuals who were in the same housing unit as the individual who has now tested positive for COVID-19 are being checked twice daily for elevated temperature and watched for illness.
With the announcement of our county’s first confirmed case of COVID-19, please take your health and your family’s health seriously. Social distancing is critical at this time for slowing the spread of the virus.
This doesn’t mean we should stop living, but it does mean we need to use common sense, wash our hands properly, cover our coughs, stay home if we’re sick, and don’t panic.
Sheriff Steve Labrum, Uintah County Sheriff’s Office