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L.A. County Jails Gearing Up For More COVID-19 Cases

The Los Angeles County Twin Towers Correctional facility is located in downtown Los Angeles. Andrew Cullen for LAist Andrew Cullen/Andrew Cullen for LAist
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The director of L.A. County correctional health says her staff is planning for a “worst-case scenario” involving rapid COVID-19 spread in the jails.

So far, about 50 inmates have been tested for the virus, and one has tested positive. The director, Jackie Clark, said her staff has been working since early February to fight against a COVID-19 outbreak in the crowded jail system.

“We already have looked at what location we would use, what staff would be needed, what supplies and medications that we would need,” she said.

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Clark says the best way to stop the spread of the virus is to release as many people in custody as possible. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has released close to 3,000 inmates in recent weeks.

“Our intake has been a third of what it normally is,” Clark said.

For those who aren’t released, Clark said her staff is working to identify areas where patients with COVID-19 symptoms and people they’ve been in contact with can be isolated.

And Clark says she’s established a protocol for when inmates say they’re not feeling well -- the inmate dons a surgical mask, and the deputy in charge wears an N95 mask, while a nurse comes to the site.

She says the jail system has 42 single beds for people who need to isolate while waiting for test results. Another area will be used for positive cases.