Floyd County Jail

A sign outside the entrance to the Floyd County Jail shows where employees line up for COVID-19 screening before the start of their shifts.

The Floyd County Sheriff’s Office began reviewing their COVID-19 response plan and protocols Thursday following the first employee testing positive Wednesday night.

Jail Administrator Maj. Bob Sapp said he believes the plan has gone smoothly so far, but staff are still looking at ways to improve safety protocols and plans in case it happens again.

“That employee is self-isolating right now,” he said. “There’s only a handful of things we can rely on: masking, social distancing, sanitation, disinfecting and mitigation procedures.”

The sheriff’s office keeps a daily contact list of all staff interactions and assignments so that if a staff member tests positive, they can go back and figure out how many people the staff member potentially exposed. In this instance, Sapp said, the employee hadn’t interacted with many other employees or inmates that day, making his risk of exposing others small.

Nevertheless, all employees who worked during the same 12-hour shift are being tested for COVID-19. In the meantime, they’ll continue wearing masks and gloves in the building and performing tasks that require minimal contact with other people. If anyone begins showing symptoms, they will be sent home.

“We’re still at Code Yellow, but we’re adding to our Code Yellow operational plans every day — certain things we might try a different way,” Sapp said. “Our goal is to protect each other, protect the inmates, protect the community.”

According to Logan Boss, communication director for the Northwest Georgia District Department of Public Health, they began testing employees on Thursday at the request of Sheriff Tim Burkhalter and are awaiting results.

“The jail is an indoor environment with a congregate setting, so the risk is higher,” Boss said.

Employees at the jail have their temperature taken at least twice a day, but inmates have not had regular temperature checks every day.

According to Sapp, they may incorporate that into their new plans.

After staff found out about the positive test, they began sanitizing all areas with proper chemicals in gear. For about an hour on Wednesday, staff instructed 911 not to send anyone to the jail, unless an arrestee was violent.

“Sheriff Burkhalter made sure we got out in front of this thing,” Sapp said. “We just enacted our plan yesterday and, knock on wood, everything went very smoothly.”

He won’t find out if other employees were exposed for a few more days, when they receive their test results.

As cases rise in the community, Sapp said the jail has seen more people coming in who have interacted with someone who has tested positive. In those instances, the inmate is placed into an isolation area for 12 to 14 days or until the person is bonded out.

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