KOLD Investigates: Pima County Jail implements new COVID-19 guidelines amid overcrowding

KMSB News 9-10 p.m. recurring
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 8:38 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pima County Jail inmates will no longer be required to undergo a 14-day observation period, the sheriff’s department confirmed on Tuesday, July 29.

Deputies said the change was due to overcrowding in the jail, and they worked with Dr. Garcia and the Pima County Health Department to come up with ways to keep staff and inmates as safe as possible.

“The 14 day observation period caused issues of overloading the observation areas. These updated procedures, while following best practices for safety, removes overcrowding of the intake and observation areas,” deputies said in a response to an inquiry about the new guidelines.

Effective immediately, all new arrestees or out-of-facility transfers to the jail will receive a rapid COVID test.

If the test is positive, the inmate will be moved to isolation for a total of 10 days if they remain asymptomatic. If the inmate is symptomatic, they will be isolated for 14 days.

If an inmate tests negative on the initial testing, they will move to an observation unit and then receive a second rapid COVID-19 test five days later.

If the second test is negative, the inmate can return to general population on the eighth day.

Also, any vaccinated inmate can go to general population as soon as space becomes available.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends continued use of a 14-day quarantine in correctional and detention facilities for people who are not fully vaccinated.

Before implementing a shortened quarantine duration for inmates or staff who are not fully vaccinated, the CDC said facilities should weigh the risks and benefits of different quarantine scenarios.

The CDC said modifications to quarantine duration for staff or inmates who are not fully vaccinated should be made in consultation with public health authorities and with an understanding of the residual risk of transmission.

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