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St. Louis officials say ‘surge’ in virus cases occurred at city jail

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St. Louis officials say 'surge' in virus cases occurred at city jail

ST. LOUIS — The City Justice Center had a "surge" in coronavirus cases just weeks before two recent disturbances at the jail resulted in inmates being transferred, city officials said Tuesday.

The rise in cases happened in mid-December, officials said. As of Tuesday, there were 30 active cases among inmates at both the Justice Center and the St. Louis Medium Security Institution, Corrections Commissioner Dale Glass said.

Keeping detainees isolated has proven easier at the Medium Security Institution, also known as the workhouse, where each inmate in the near-empty facility can have their own cell, Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards said Tuesday during a Health and Human Services Committee meeting.

"I might add that we’ve had no one be hospitalized as a result of COVID-19 over the entire period," Edwards told the committee. "Most folks tested positive as a result of us doing testing of the facility, and most were asymptomatic. We’ve had five people with low-grade fevers that we’ve monitored very closely."

Edwards said that over the course of the pandemic, about 85 inmates at the two jails have been either exposed to or infected by the coronavirus.

On Dec. 29 and again on Jan. 1, a group of detainees at the CJC refused to follow orders to go into lockdown. Staff and city sheriff’s deputies eventually used pepper spray on the inmates. Jae Shepherd, left, and Inez Bordeaux, organizers with Close the Workhouse, lead a protest demanding the city to shut down its Medium Security Institution, informally known as the workhouse, on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, outside the jail located on Hall Street. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com Jae Shepherd with Action […]

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