Kitchen duties typically performed by inmates of the Frederick County Adult Detention Center are in the hands of staff to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Staff started serving up food to the more than 200 inmates Jan. 3, spokesman Todd Wivell said, after inmates tested positive for COVID-19 for the first time. They’d previously gone 10 months without a case.
Typically, eight inmates and kitchen staff work together to prep and serve food. Working in the kitchen helps inmates earn time off of their sentences, according to a Frederick County Sheriff’s Office statement. With COVID-19 now in the detention center, inmates aren’t working their usual jobs in order to help prevent the spread.
Correctional officers used to watch the inmates as they worked, but now, COs are among the numerous staff helping feed them. Some staff even came in on the weekends to help with the effort, the sheriff’s office said. Tyra White, dietary supervisor, leads the kitchen.
“No one stopped to pause when this pandemic hit our facility,” Randy Martin, assistant director of inmate services, said in a news release. “We all worked together to get the job done and made sure that each and every inmate received their three meals a day.”
Assistant Warden Mike Cronise commended those who stepped up, noting in the release that Martin personally cooked more than 250 grilled cheese sandwiches for one lunch.
“This was a total team effort and not one time did we hear someone say, ‘This is not my job!’” Cronise is quoted as saying.
The switch in staffing remains in place for now as COVID-19 numbers are monitored. There are currently 10 active COVID-19 cases among inmates, according to Wivell. There have been 22 inmate cases and one hospitalization since the pandemic began. The hospitalized inmate recovered and returned to the detention center, Wivell said. No staff have COVID-19 currently, but nine tested positive since the pandemic began.
Vaccinations are underway for high-risk inmates. Of 44 inmates identified as high-risk, 34 have received their first shots of the vaccine, Wivell said. The other 10 declined vaccination. The 34 who were inoculated are scheduled to receive their second doses around Feb. 23.