Chase County Detention Facility - Photo 1.png

Cottonwood Falls — Chase County Commissioners were told a Chase County Detention Center jailer had tested positive for COVID-19 Friday. 

The Chase County Health Department said Monday that 29 positive cases of COVID-19 at the Chase County Detention Center in Cottonwood Falls had been confirmed. 

The total includes 27 detainees and two staff members.

"The detainees at Chase County Detention Center are male between the ages of 21 and 67," the health department said in a written release. "Staff members are male over the age of 23."

Chase County Commission Chairman Tony Hazelton said commissioners had learned of a single positive case at the Chase County Detention Center Friday, when Jail Administrator Larry Sigler visited with the commission to discuss a single case of a jailer testing positive for the novel coronavirus. After that test, a mandatory coronavirus test was given to inmates and staff. Following that initial test, an additional 29 cases at the jail were reported.

“It’s being handled,” Hazelton said. “Larry (Sigler) does a really good job there with that.”

The Chase County Detention Center also serves as an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention Center, contracting with ICE to house immigrant detainees since at least 2002. 

The health department said Sigler, along with health officials, were actively working with ICE to handle the outbreak. However, as of Tuesday evening, ICE's web site — www.ice.gov/coronavirus — had not been updated to reflect the current outbreak in Cottonwood Falls, and the list of infected ICE officers had not been updated since June 18. 

ICE has not responded to The Emporia Gazette's request for comments on why this information has not yet been updated. 

County Health Officer Carol Coirier said she believed the jail does a good job keeping up with hygiene and social distancing and that they were keeping the virus contained to the facility. No inmates will be transferred in or out of the detention center at this time. The jail is working closely with KDHE to keep the virus contained.

The health department, in consultation with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, has implemented the following to mitigate further spread:

• Ongoing cohorting of detainees based on infection status.

• No transfers to or from other facilities.

• Strict mask protocols enforced for staff and ongoing education and encouragement of detainee mask protocols.

• Continued testing to identify status of staff and detainees to allow proper cohorting and quarantine/isolation.

• Chase County will heighten routine and targeted symptom checking.

For current information on COVID-19 in Kansas visit www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus.

(9) comments

Veronique

Perhaps if the nurse spent more time screening the inmates instead of flirting with the deputies and jailers maybe she could have helped prevent the spread. Seems foolish that someone is paid full-time to overlook nearly 40% of the inmates being SICK.

Rationa1

This strain of coronavirus is highly contagious. Once it enters a restricted facility such as a jail or a nursing home, it becomes nearly impossible to control. Regardless of whether your accusation is founded, your blame is misplaced.

Hollowed Ground

Utter negligence. Prisoners need more care than others because they are wards of the state and the state is charged with their well-being. The prisoners have no options unlike us on the outside.

SnowGypsy

I'm kind of surprised the inmate to officer ratio is so low considering this jail is famous for it's jailers going the extra mile if you know what I mean.

sportsfam

care to explain EXACTLY what you are inferring?

SnowGypsy

I could, but explaining what chase county jailers do for their inmates would break the rules here, specifically rule 1.

Rationa1

Red herring. The article topic is the COVID-19 cluster in the jail. This comment takes the discussion off topic.

Also, no, I don't know what you mean.

SnowGypsy

My comment is on-topic and is about the inmate/guard infection ratio of the covid-19 cluster. And the more I think about it, one or two guards and a bunch of infected inmates does make sense given this particular jails history, if you know what I mean.

Rationa1

Nope, Gypsy. Even after your 11 am comment, I still don't know what you mean. You will have to either be more clear or just not make hints about things you don't think you can say.

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