EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story attributed Limestone County’s positives to the wrong correctional facility. This has been corrected.
MADISON COUNTY, Ala. — The Alabama Department of Corrections COVID-19 dashboard shows 731 inmates have tested positive for the virus and 29 have died across the state. The latest update was from Nov. 6 and the dashboard says 23 of the state’s 26 facilities have inmate cases, but that doesn’t include the Madison County Jail.
Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner says so far, they have managed to keep COVID-19 out of the jail and he says it’s probably because of the quarantine process they have set in place.
“It’s been since April, you know, we’ve locked that jail down because we do not want to keep COVID,” said Sheriff Turner. “Knock on wood, we have had success with COVID not being in the facility so far. That could change overnight but we know that we’ve had it on lockdown.”
Sheriff Turner says several months ago, the Sheriff’s Office shut down all visitation to the jail to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. He says they are only doing what everyone else in the state is doing, but other North Alabama facilities haven’t been so lucky.
59 inmates have tested positive at Limestone Correctional Facility and 85 inmates have tested positive at the North Alabama Community Based Facility and Community Work Center in Decatur.
Sheriff Turner says any inmate brought into the Madison County Jail is put into quarantine, no matter the situation, before being released into the general population.
“When we bring people into the jail, whether it’s a new arrestee, we put them through medical screening. After they’re done with the medical screening, they will go to a particular cell for quarantine, which is the ventilation is set up differently throughout the jail. They will stay in that particular cell unless their bond out for 15 days. We quarantine them there for 15 days then we send them back through medical before we send them into population.”Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner
Brent Patterson with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office tells News 19 that inmates are cleaning the facility every day and work release has been shut down to prevent inmates from leaving, contracting the virus, and bringing it back into the jail.
The Sheriff’s Office says it’s all to maintain a controlled environment within the facility, and it has worked so far.
“So I’m not saying that COVID will not be in that jail but I’m saying for right now, we’ve done a real good job of managing it,” says Sheriff Turner.
Though no inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, in July a Madison County Detention Officer contracted the virus and was put on self-isolation.
The Alabama Department of Corrections COVID-19 dashboard shows 523 jail employees have tested positive for COVID-19 across the state.