More than three-quarters of the inmates housed together in one unit of the George Bailey Detention Facility north of Otay Mesa have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the San Diego Sheriff's Department said Monday.
The first inmates showed signs of symptoms last week, prompting nine to be tested and isolated, the SDSO said. When all nine tests returned positive, the rest of the Module 1C housing facility's 70 inmates were tested.
By Saturday, 55 inmates were confirmed positive for COVID-19, SDSO said Monday. The 15 who tested negative are being monitored.
"At this time the outbreak is limited to one module, but is the most significant COVID related event to date in our jail system," SDSO said in a written news release.
At least one inmate was hospitalized as a result of symptoms, SDSO said.
"Two asymptomatic inmates were released from custody prior to their test results being available," SDSO said. "Those released prior to results being available are followed up with by the Department of Public Health."
The rest of the positive inmates "were transferred to isolation units within our system." SDSO said they were staying in "cell style housing units which allow for less exposure to each other." The inmates will remain in isolation for at least 14 days, according to SDSO.
"Our Medical Services Division is working closely with the Department of Public Health concerning our ongoing COVID response and clinical trends in support of the contact investigations."
SDSO said the inmates are being monitored by sheriff's department medical staff, who decide when testing should occur. The department said concerned inmates "have resources available to them upon request," but didn't expand further.
Meanwhile, Module 1C was emptied and sanitized. It remains empty, SDSO said. Inmates in adjacent housing units were placed under quarantine and are undergoing COVID-19 testing as well. The sheriff's department did not say when results could be expected.
The 189,050 sq. ft. detention facility on average houses more than 1,700 people a day but populations at most county jails have been reduced due to coronavirus concerns.
In order to prevent against the coronavirus, SDSO said all inmates receive daily temperature checks, the facilities have undergone increased cleaning and disinfecting, and masks have been provided for inmates and staff, among other additional measures.