Four inmates and six correctional officers recently tested positive for COVID-19 at the adult detention center, according to Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office, which runs the adult detention center (ADC), issued a news release Thursday stating four inmates tested positive as of Saturday — five days after the sheriff’s office announced it had gone the entire pandemic without a case among inmates.
“At my direction, the warden locked down the ADC and instated additional preventative measures to protect all staff and inmates,” FCSO Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said in a statement. “ADC leadership and Wellpath medical professionals are working with the Frederick County Health Department to ensure every employee and inmate adheres to the CDC guidelines regarding quarantine, isolation, and treatment. All sanitation measures instituted at the beginning of the pandemic are continuing as prescribed.”
Wellpath is the ADC’s contracted medical provider.
According to the sheriff’s office, as a result of the changes, staff are taking additional measures, including:
- Inmate movement is restricted to sick call and mental health checkups. Inmates can still attend video court and bond reviews
- Inmates can contact their attorney from within their housing unit.
- No work release crews are going out to the public.
- All programs offered to the inmates are canceled.
- The ADC library will be closed.
- All visits are suspended until further notice.
- All dental visits are postponed.
- Correctional officers are working two-week post assignments.
- All correctional officers’ in-service training is postponed.
Matthew Frawley, who has been a public defender in Frederick for more than a decade, said this is “uncharted territory.” He has several clients who got plea offers, and he’s eager to speak with them in person, he said.
“Some of these guys have been sitting in jail for more than a year. They’re obviously feeling neglected,” Frawley said. “My hair’s not on fire over it yet, but if it continues, it can be a major issue regarding the representation of my clients who are incarcerated.”
Frawley didn’t know for certain whether the tablets inmates can use to make calls and send texts are recorded, so he doesn’t plan to use those. Sheriff’s office spokesman Todd Wivell said phone lines are not recorded.
Frawley learned Monday he wouldn’t be able to see his clients in person at the detention center until next Tuesday. His office received notice from the warden around noon, he said. While Frawley acknowledged a short pause on visitation to curb an outbreak is understandable, if it goes on for too long, he may consider filing motions in court to demand hearings on behalf of his clients.
Attorneys are not the only people with concerns. Donna Rider has a loved one at the detention center and is concerned over the COVID-19 outbreak.
“You’re constantly worried,” she said. “You get up, you think about it. You go to bed, you’re thinking about it.”
The sheriff’s office says inmates with COVID-19 are being monitored, and staff who tested positive are not at work.
Correctional officers immediately put the positive inmates in a 10-day medical isolation, according to the sheriff’s office, where Wellpath staff constantly monitor them. The block of ADC where the positive inmates resided was put under a 10-day quarantine, and the other inmates in that block were offered COVID-19 tests. All other inmates are under a seven-day quarantine.
Correctional officers who tested positive cannot return until their quarantine is complete and they test negative, the sheriff’s office said. ADC staff began receiving the vaccine earlier this week.
Clarification: This story has been updated to more accurately reflect Matthew Frawley’s statement about the tablets used in the detention center.