Most of the Grand Forks County Correctional Center inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 last week are on track to be released from isolation this week as their 10-day infectious period comes to an end.
GFCCC administrator Bret Burkholder said that, of the 86 people who tested positive last week, the majority remain asymptomatic with some experiencing mild to moderate symptoms. He said last week that one person was hospitalized briefly then released back to the jail. Since then, no inmates have required hospitalization.
As of Tuesday evening, Nov. 25, there were 75 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 living in the jail, and a total of 92 people were in isolation. After most of those isolation periods expired on Thanksgiving Day, the number has fallen to seven. Those seven people all tested positive during a testing event in the jail on Sunday, Nov. 22, which targeted inmates who tested positive in the previous testing event.
Of those seven people, six were expected to be positive due to their close contact with someone who tested positive and were already in isolation, Burkholder said. The seventh unexpected positive will be isolated and the rest of that person's unit will be placed in quarantine.
There are now confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 10 units of the jail, down from 20 last week.
Two correctional officers have tested positive for the virus, but one is scheduled to return to work this week.
Another round of testing will take place next week for inmates who previously tested negative.
Burkholder said the jail has worked with law enforcement, local prosecutors and the court system to stymie the flow of new people into the jail wherever possible.
On one recent morning, there were 178 people living in the jail, down from more than 200 over the past several months, Burkholder said. He highlighted this as a piece of good news: The lower the number of people there are in the jail, the easier it is to quarantine and isolate people, as needed.
He's optimistic that the jail will maintain a lower population as the holiday season approaches. Historically, he said, there are fewer arrests in November and December.