TUSCUMBIA, Ala. — It was an unexpected phone call that led to the discovery of a COVID-19 outbreak inside the Colbert County Jail.
Sheriff Frank Williamson said because of the jail’s limited capacity, most inside have already been exposed but his office is doing its best to protect them.
After transporting several inmates to an Alabama prison, Williamson said he later received a phone call that one prisoner had tested positive for the virus.
“I called the health department and we started the process of testing all of our inmates,” Williamson said.
As of Thursday, August 12, Williamson said there were 17 positive inmates and eight positive employees.
“We try to quarantine everybody we can but the problem is we don’t have enough room to quarantine everybody,” Williamson said.
The sheriff said there is an eight-person cell in which inmates with the worst symptoms are held and monitored.
He added that overcrowding situations like this are further proof of why the proposed new jail on the TVA Muscle Shoals Reservation is needed.
“We’re not really allowing anybody hardly in the jail other than employees and the nurses and doctors and medical staff,” Williamson explained.
The sheriff said anyone who enters the jail is screened at the gate for any symptoms. And as far as vaccines, he said he’s seeking guidance from the Alabama Department of Public Health.
“We are going to get the health department involved in that and their recommendations is what we’re going to go by,” he said. The sheriff added that some inmates and employees are already fully vaccinated.
To help reduce the number of inmates, Sheriff Williamson said his office will work to bond out non-violent offenders as well as work with the judges and district attorney’s office for alternative solutions.