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BCSO: 141 Blount County inmates test positive for COVID-19 & 0 employees

The Blount County Sheriff's Office administered COVID-19 tests to more than 600 deputies and inmates Tuesday.

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — Officials said that 141 inmates tested positive for COVID-19 Friday after the Blount County Sheriff's Office administered tests to more than 600 deputies and inmates on Tuesday.

They said they tested 493 inmates in total and 126 employees. No employees tested positive for COVID-19, authorities said.

One inmate is under medical care and three inmates are reporting mild symptoms, according to officials. They said that 97.9 percent of positive cases are asymptomatic. They also tested 16 inmates over the previous few weeks. Those inmates were not retested and they recovered, according to authorities.

Sheriff Berrong said that masks were issued to all inmates and that all corrections deputies are mandated to wear face coverings while working at the correctional facility. They are also continuing to follow CDC guidelines and recommendations from the Tennessee Department of Health.

AUGUST 28, 2020 MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE - Blount County Sheriff James ... Lee Berrong said the Sheriff's Office contracted with Southern Health Partners in conjunction with the Blount County Health Department to administer COVID-19 tests to more than 600 deputies and inmates on Tuesday, August 25.

“We are doing the best we can with the resources that are provided to us,” Sheriff Berrong said in a post on Facebook. “Our correctional facility is certified for 350 inmates. Our average daily population today is 530, and our population is 500 or above on a routine basis and has been for several years."

New inmates entering the jail are also quarantined away from the general population for 14 days, authorities said, unless they make bond within that 14 day period. 

"We do not have the space to quarantine hundreds of inmates, and it is physically not possible to practice physical distancing with our inmate population," he said. "We are dealing with an extremely unfortunate set of circumstances and we are grappling with the reality of our situation. Releasing our inmate population into the general public just isn’t an option.”

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