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.