coronavirus pandemic

San Diego County Sheriff's Department Confirms Rising Number of COVID-19 Cases Among Employees

In the past five months, 68 employees out of more than 4,200 who work for the department have tested positive

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COVID-19 is spreading among San Diego County Sheriff's Department employees, with one new case a day and 40 new infections over the past four weeks, the sheriff's department confirmed.

In the past five months, 68 employees out of more than 4,200 who work for the department have tested positive, SDSO told NBC 7. Of those who tested positive, 57 have recovered and returned to work.

The San Diego Union-Tribune first reported the story saying eight cases in the last week pushed the total number to 68. Four weeks ago, that number was 28.

It is not immediately clear what department the employees who tested positive work for but the Sheriff's Department said it was a relatively low number.

"Considering the large size of our agency, we as a whole have done very well.  We are confident in the procedures and protocols that we implemented from the very start of the pandemic to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19," SDSO said.

The UT also reported there are currently four inmates who have positive for the virus and 58 inmates that are being housed in isolation under COVID-19 precaution protocols. That total is up from 54 last week.

Hundreds of inmates have been released without bail from county jails after an executive order signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to reduce prison population size amid growing concerns of the coronavirus' spread.

The released inmates were incarcerated for nonviolent misdemeanors or with fewer than 60 days remaining on their sentences.

The department said safeguards have been in place to protect staff to help prevent the spread of the virus in the facilities and community.

"Sheriff's employees practice social distancing whenever possible. Employees have the option of working from home (telecommuting). Virtual meetings are primarily being used instead of in-person meetings and training classes. This has become the new norm. We have also canceled non-essential community events and business-related travel until further notice," the department said in a statement to NBC 7.

Temperature checks have also been conducted at all sheriff's stations, detention facilities, and the communications center. The Sheriff's Medical Liaison Unit (MLU) is following up with employees who have come in close contact with someone with COVID-19 and are self-quarantined at home, the department said.

"The Sheriff's Department along with our county health partners will continue to monitor the recent spike in cases in our region to ensure we all work together to flatten the curve," SDSO said.

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