Inmates, employees at county jail tested for virus

Robert Smith

Osage County Sheriff Eddie Virden said Monday that results for COVID-19 tests done last week on county inmates, jail staff members and deputies were negative. Virden had the tests administered after he learned May 26 that a jail staff member had tested positive for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Virden told the Journal-Capital on May 27 that he had just learned the night before a county jail staff member had tested positive for COVID-19.

“As soon as we got that word, we contacted our medical staff,” he said.

Virden said May 27 that he did not know of anyone else among his staff members or inmates at the jail being sick, but he intended to have tests conducted for COVID-19.

Health department personnel would test employees in a drive-through setting, and the jail medical staff would test inmates, Virden said.

There were about 60 inmates and 25 employees to be tested, he said. He explained the employee figure included jail staff members and two deputies who had contact with the COVID-positive staffer when booking prisoners.

The detention officer who tested positive had not been at work for several days, Virden said May 27. That person wore a mask and gloves, per policy, when booking prisoners, Virden said.

He said health department personnel felt the chances were low that others had been exposed to COVID-19, but he wanted to make certain whether anyone else had contracted it.

As of Monday, tests for COVID-19 had yielded a total of 95 positive results from Osage County. State health officials had confirmed eight deaths and 85 recoveries from COVID-19 in Osage County, apparently leaving just two active cases in the county at the beginning of the week.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced the first of Osage County’s 95 COVID-19 cases on March 25. The health department announced the first Osage County death from COVID-19 in its daily situation report for April 2, and the most recent death in its situation report for April 14. There have been no additional deaths in a month and a half. Six of the eight deaths reportedly resulted from circumstances at a nursing home in Skiatook.

Virden said Monday afternoon that the county jail employee who tested positive for COVID-19 is making a strong recovery and it is hoped that person can be back at work by June 10.