National Guard Conducts COVID-19 Testing in the Dane County Jail
As COVID-19 cases rise in the community, the same is true for the population of the Dane County Jail. COVID positive cases have been increasing in the jail over the past few weeks, and as of today, there are 54 positive cases among residents of the jail. This is down significantly from last week when there was approximately 90 cases.
In order to contain the spread of the virus as much as possible, the Sheriff’s Office, along with Public Health of Madison and Dane County, requested the assistance of the Wisconsin National Guard to do a mass testing of every resident in the jail. A similar process was conducted in the early weeks of the pandemic. The testing is taking place on Monday, January 10. Anyone in the jail who had already tested positive in the last 90 days is exempt from the testing. The population inside the Dane County Jail on Monday is 597, the highest number seen during the pandemic.
“We continue to take all precautions within our power to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the Dane County Jail. However, this pandemic has highlighted the challenges we face with space needs in our jail. We have limited room to separate individuals and lack a medical area to isolate those who test positive, forcing us to utilize solitary confinement cells for COVID positive residents,” said Sheriff Kalvin Barrett.
Precautions taken throughout the pandemic include:
Anyone booked in to the jail is housed separately from general population for the first 14 days and tested if they are symptomatic.
After the 14-day period, and only after receiving a negative test, they are moved into the general population.
If someone does test positive, they are placed in isolation for 10 days. When space does not allow for isolation, positive residents are housed together with other known positive residents for the 10-day quarantine period.
Anyone entering the jail has the option to be vaccinated if they so choose.
The Sheriff’s Office is working toward doing a rapid test on everyone who enters the jail and will move to this procedure as soon as enough rapid tests become available. This would in turn eliminate the need for the 14-day separation process.