71 inmates, 8 staff tests positive for COVID-19 at Cecil County Detention Center

This chart from the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office shows how many inmates at the county’s detention center and how many staff have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

ELKTON — That outbreak of COVID-19 at the Cecil County Detention Center has found 79 positive tests, mostly among inmates at the facility on Landing Lane, according to a spokesman for Cecil County Sheriff’s Office.

Chief Deputy Gerald K. Widdoes, in a prepared statement to the Whig Friday afternoon, said from Oct. 9 through Oct. 13 there was a mass testing for the novel coronavirus in which all staff and most of the 208 inmates were given the test after several correctional officers began experiencing mild symptoms of the virus. Widdoes stated three of the inmates refused the test.

Of the 302 tests administered 217 came back negative. However 71 inmates and 8 staff members did test positive. Widdoes said that indicates a 26.69% positivity rate.

”It should be noted that all positive inmates are only experiencing mild symptoms or are totally asymptomatic,” Widdoes said. He said medical personnel under contract with the detention center in Elkton as well as the Cecil County Health Department are caring for the inmates and the contractual staff is on site constantly.

Widdoes added that work is being done in conjunction with the Cecil County courts to identify certain inmates.

”We have previously identified especially vulnerable inmates, such as those with underlying medical conditions, and have worked with the court systems to alter their bond conditions where appropriate,” Widdoes said. “We hold inmates that are committed by the court system and do not have the authority to release inmates without court orders. Our pre-trial monitoring program to include home monitoring is still operational.”

A week ago Lt. Michael Holmes, CCSO spokesman, said 236 inmates were in the facility and testing was under way.

“This is an ever-changing situation,” Holmes said. “We’re constantly adjusting to what we’re dealing with.”

Holmes said the staff that test positive are quarantining at their own homes.

Widdoes explained that since March the detention center has had a policy in place that uses the multiple tiers inside to isolate those considered to be infectious. That policy is in play now.

”We have various tiers in our facility and are working to house inmates in the appropriate security settings being positive, negative, and presumptively positive tiers,” he explained.

Also since March visitations are canceled but those being held in the detention center are afforded extra telephone privileges to make up for the loss of visits.

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