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Office of Communications

Posted on: May 1, 2020

First Case of COVID-19 Confirmed in Maricopa County Jails

Correctional Health Update

May 1, 2020 - Maricopa County Correctional Health Services (CHS) and Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) received the first positive test for COVID-19 of someone in custody in a jail facility.

The individual was arrested on April 26th. During the intake screening, the individual complained of a cough and sore throat.  Based on those symptoms, the person was placed in an isolation cell and provided a mask.  The individual was then transferred to a Medical Observation Housing Unit and tested for COVID-19.  All people in the unit are segregated from the general population and housed in individual holding cells to prevent exposure to others.

The screening protocol that was developed and implemented worked exactly as it was intended to—it allowed staff to immediately identify and isolate an individual with symptoms, so they were not in the general population, which prevents exposure to other inmates.  MCSO is identifying staff that potentially had close contact with this individual.

On April 29, the individual was released from jail while the result of the COVID-19 test was pending.  Consistent with protocols, prior to release, CHS educated the individual about the importance of continuing to isolate upon release. The person was also advised to seek medical care if symptoms of fever, shortness of breath, or cough worsened.

On April 30, 2020, CHS received the positive COVID-19 test for the defendant.  CHS is working with Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) to conduct the case investigation and contact those who were exposed to the case.  The last known residence of the individual who tested positive is outside of Maricopa County, so MCDPH is working with the Arizona Department of Health Services to complete the public health contact investigation.

As of May 1, 2020, this is the only confirmed inmate case of COVID-19 in the Maricopa County jail system.  To date, 123 inmates have been tested; 15 inmates are in isolation with test results pending. There have been 107 negative tests for individuals in Maricopa County jail facilities.

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