All 289 COVID-19 tests of incarcerated individuals at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center collected Friday have come back negative, health officials said Tuesday, meaning that no new additional cases have been recorded at the facility since last week’s outbreak.
The results of 560 additional tests that were taken Monday are still pending.
In all, 20 inmates and one employee at the facility have tested positive for COVID-19. Three of the individuals have experienced mild symptoms, while the rest are asymptomatic.
The outbreak was first identified on Oct. 2, when an incarcerated patient tested positive during routine screening. The patient, who had previously tested negative for the disease, was transferred to the facility’s COVID unit. Employees of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health immediately began additional PCR testing of inmates and employees who had had contact with the patient.
Every patient who tested positive was isolated, and the person’s contacts were quarantined. A medical provider is seeing each patient who tests positive for a medical assessment, even those who are asymptomatic. Testing began with those closest to the original patient and continued throughout the jail population.
The source of the outbreak is not clear at this time. Until the latest cluster of cases, DPH had detected no evidence of transmission of the virus within the facility. All previous cases were traced to transmission before the individual entered the facility.
Valerie Nelson, chief operating officer of corrections medicine for DPH, said daily inmate screening, contact tracing and case investigation efforts continue. She said incarcerated individuals affected by the outbreak have access to telephones at least twice daily, and facility employees are encouraging patients and close contacts to keep their families updated.
Families of incarcerated individuals who would like more information are encouraged to email [email protected] or call 314-615-JAIL (5245) and ask for the Medical Community Liaison, who will address their concerns and facilitate communication with family members.