Macomb County Jail reports 25% of inmates have tested positive for COVID-19

The Macomb County Jail is having to implement new protocols after more than a quarter of the inmates held there have tested positive for COVID-19 after months of no cases.

When COVID 19 numbers began to skyrocket back in March, the Macomb County Jail did not see a peak among its inmate population and it stayed low or not in the jail at all for most of the year.

"We had 5 inmates at beginning of March that tested positive," sheriff Anthony Wickersham said."From basically April up until the end of October we did not have any positive cases in jail."

That changed about two months ago. 

"In October, we tested some inmates that were on several floors, two floors to be exact, and they came back with positive results," Wickersham said.

Sheriff Wickersham, who himself tested positive for COVID-19, is wondering how the virus entered the jail. Of the nearly 540 inmates, 143 are positive, despite the jail following CDC protocols.

"A majority of the inmates that tested positive are asymptomatic. We do have one inmate is in hospital, we believe, due to COVID complications," he said.

To put an end to the spread of the virus in the jail, Macomb County is making several new changes that appear to already be working.

"Right now all new inmates that are coming in for processing are being tested. Prior to that, we were only tested those that showed signs of symptoms," he said. 

So far, it's working. Over the weekend, Wickersham said they had five incoming inmates test positive this weekend. If inmates test positive, they are put in quarantine until they're no longer positive.

The virus is also affecting staff of the jail where Wickersham sadi around 30 tested positive over the past month.

"Obviously in an environment like this, it’s sometimes hard but we're doing what we can to keep the virus out," Wickersham said.