Sixteen Sevier County inmates are being quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19, authorities said Monday.
None right now are displaying symptoms of the virus, however, according to Sevier County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Michael Hodges.
On July 13 and 14, two inmates showed flu-like symptoms including fever and cough. Both had been inmates for awhile; they were not new arrivals, according to Hodges.
The inmates were moved out of the main jail pod and into single-person cells. They tested positive for the virus. After the Sheriff's Office called the health department to conduct more testing, authorities learned 14 more inmates were positive but asymptomatic and four were negative.
Results on three tests were pending as of Sunday. Seven inmates declined to be tested.
The virus turned up only in one 30-person pod. Under current quarantine conditions, authorities have stopped all movement within the pod. Inmates are treated as needed within their cells unless higher level services are needed.
Including the original two inmates who tested positive, no one is displaying symptoms of the virus, according to Hodges.
The Sheriff's Office is extending the quarantine to Aug. 15 as a precaution.
Hodges said there's no way to say where the virus came from. An inmate may have been asymptomatic upon admission and quietly spread it without anyone realizing.
In early July, before the inmates tested positive, Sheriff Ron Seals suspended on-site visitations as a precaution. Authorities say they've offered options such as video, phone and kiosk access so that inmates can communicate with loved ones.
In addition, volunteer ministries conducted at the office's jail facilities were suspended.