FAULKNER COUNTY, Ark. (News release) — Last week Sheriff Tim Ryals started the process of having all detainees and detention center employees tested for the coronavirus. Testing began after a detainee in our booking facility exhibited symptoms of the virus about two weeks ago.
Upon receiving the results of the testing, the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office was notified that two detention officers tested positive for COVID-19; all other employee test results were negative. From the first identified case to the last case tested, the total number of detainees who have tested positive is 28. Seven detainees were released by either bond or the court; all who were released have been notified of their positive results. Two of the seven detainees were released while results were pending; the other five were released with an Order of Isolation and Isolation instructions per the guidelines of the Arkansas Department of Health. The detainees who are still in custody that have tested positive (18 males and 3 females) have been moved to a separate portion of the jail. All other detainees have been issued face ma sks.
Since the onset of the virus, the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office has diligently followed the Center of Disease Control guidelines of prisons to include:
- Enhanced sanitation schedule: the jail cells and communal areas are thoroughly cleaned per CDC guidelines.
- Enhanced booking procedures during the intake process: all detainees have their temperature taken and are questioned about their travel, possible symptoms, and contacts with potentially ill individuals. Upon booking, the detainees are placed in a quarantine area, which is separate from the general population for 14 days.
- All employees at the detention centers (who are in contact with inmates infected with COVID-19) are required to use personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes N-95 masks, face shields, and other recommended PPE. Masks are utilized by employees throughout the detention center.
- The Sheriff’s Office has modified the ventilation system in two booking cells to become negative pressure cells, which help to further reduce the probability of spreading the virus.
The Sheriff’s Office is working closely with both their detention physician and Dr. Patil of the Arkansas Department of Health to ensure the safety of our inmates and personnel. The Sheriff and his staff are committed to ensuring the health, safety, and wellbeing of every detainee and employee.