30 test positive at jail

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In all, 16 of 57 inmates and 14 of 34 detention center officers test positive

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  • Photo from Elbert County Emergency Services of the COVID-19 testing at the Elbert County Detention Center on Wednesday, April 29.
    Photo from Elbert County Emergency Services of the COVID-19 testing at the Elbert County Detention Center on Wednesday, April 29.
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Elbert County Chief Deputy Darren Scarborough, Elbert County Emergency Management Agency Director Chuck Almond and Elbert County Administrator Bob Thomas said Monday night that since April 27 officials have determined that, thus far, 16 inmates and 14 detention center officers have tested positive for COVID-19.

An officer who tested positive and an inmate who tested positive, both on April 27, prompted Scarborough to call Almond, who in turn contacted Georgia’s Emergency Management Agency.

That agency sent a unit from the National Guard Wednesday, April 29 to test 100 people at the jail, including detention center officers, inmates, maintenance personnel and State Court Judge Steve Jenkins, who had held a hearing at the detention center on Thursday, April 23.

Most of the test results were returned to Elbert County officials Monday.

In all 10 detention center officers were positive, and Almond said four other detention center officers had tested positive previous to the 100 tested on Wednesday.

Scarborough said 16 inmates, all male, had tested positive.

Eight tests, all inmates, are still pending, one test came back invalid and Judge Jenkins’ test came back neither pending nor invalid, according to Almond. Of the 100 tests, 64 were negative.

Although numbers are shifting and there may be some duplicate counts of positive tests, Almond said he believes now there are 54 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Elbert County.

On April 21, there were five confirmed positive tests in Elbert County.

Practice Administrator Brooke McDowell at The Medical Center of Elberton (TMC) said the local facility, as of Monday afternoon, had tested 108 and received 20 positive tests. On Monday, no tests were pending at TMC.

“We put a request in to the state, and they evaluate the requests at the state’s emergency evaluation center,” said Almond last week. “We put that request in on Monday (April 27) and they sent the unit to Elberton Wednesday (April 29) morning.”

In addition to conducting the 100 COVID-19 tests, the National Guard unit sent by the state did a thorough cleaning and disinfecting at the Elbert County Detention Center, said Almond.

On Monday night Almond said the request for a “mass facility” testing unit was “filtered on a state level” before the decision was made by state officials to do the testing and cleaning at the Elbert County Detention Center.

Scarborough said the detention center has four pods, and all inmates that have tested positive are isolated in one of the pods.

Scarborough also said there are 34 detention center officers working at the jail, 21 full time and 13 part time. Since 12 of the officers that tested positive are full-time officers, Scarborough said the part-time officers are filling in for full-time officers.

No Elbert County Sheriff’s Office personnel have been tested, according to Scarborough.

Elberton Police Department Chief Mark Welsh said his entire police force had scheduled testing with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), but when GEMA scheduled the testing for Monday, April 27 at the Elbert County Detention Center on the same day Scarborough alerted Almond an inmate and a guard had tested positive at the jail, Welsh said he asked the time and date to be relocated.

The entire Elberton Police Department was tested on Friday at the Elberton Police Department. Results on those tests are pending.

Bubba Foods, LLC, announced Tuesday, April 28 “colleagues” at its local plant have tested positive for COVID-19.“We have colleagues who have tested positive for COVID-19 in our Elberton, Georgia facility,” said Travis Crouse, Bubba Foods’ Chief Operating Officer. 

On Saturday, April 25 Nikki Richardson of JBS USA & Pilgrim’s Corporate Communications office told The Elberton Star Pilgrim’s has had employees test positive for COVID-19 “in the U.S.”

Richardson would not confirm that the Elberton facility had employees that had tested positive.