MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. – As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the state, so do the number of county jail inmates who test positive for the virus. A number of viewers have contacted News 19 with concerns about their loved ones in jail, specifically in the Marshall County Jail.
According to officials with the Marshall County Sheriff’s office, 18 inmates have recently tested positive.
Three of them are being treated at the hospital, two are on ventilators, one is on high flow oxygen. Jail staff say no inmates who have tested positive have died.
A sheriff’s office spokesperson says they have tested a total of 19 inmates over the course of the pandemic. All 19 tests have come back positive.
Community members have reached out to News 19 expressing concerns about testing at the jail. Sheriff’s office officials say sick inmates are individually assessed and they are tested for COVID-19 if they show symptoms.
Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health says the agency provides guidance for jails on how to handle COVID-19, but they have no actual role in patient care. That is left to the jail’s provider.
“This is medical care, so that really should be addressed through to the entity and their medical provider because certainly if a person has symptoms that are suggestive of COVID-19 then the jail should work through their medical provider to have that person tested. If there are persons that are close contacts and have symptoms and need to be tested, this is medical care,” Dr. Landers stated.
Marshall County Jail staff say they screen inmates for COVID-19 as they are booked into jail, provide masks, and offer the vaccine to inmates.
Officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health stressed the importance of providing COVID-19 vaccinations to inmates to prevent the spread of the virus.