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Officials: Virus spread slowing at Sullivan County jail
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Officials: Virus spread slowing at Sullivan County jail

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BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. — The Sullivan County jail has had 254 positive cases of COVID-19 among inmates and employees, but 202 of those have recovered and the spread of the respiratory illness there seems to be slowing, local officials said.

Mark Moody, the Sullivan County Regional Health Department’s emergency response coordinator, shared the latest numbers Tuesday and had no updated totals Wednesday. The total number of positive cases increased by just two since Sept. 4, when the Health Department reported 252 total cases among inmates and staff.

“It seems to have slowed,” said Capt. Andy Seabolt, public information officer for the SCSO.

“It does appear we’ve got it under control right now,” Chief Jail Administrator Lee Carswell said. “I think we’re on the downhill slide.”

Moody reported that there were 41 inmates and 11 staff with active cases as of Tuesday, and the latter are all staff members who live outside Sullivan County.

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“Everybody [on staff] that’s a Sullivan County resident has recovered,” Moody said Tuesday.

Carswell said that the inmates who tested positive — and who had to stay where they’re housed in the jail — seem to have experienced milder symptoms than the employees.

“The inmate population had ... handled it a lot better. It’s like it hit the staff to a greater degree than the inmates,” he said. “It’s the strangest thing.”

No inmates were hospitalized after testing positive, Carswell said, and the two employees who were hospitalized had been discharged as of Tuesday.

“We had several more [staff] that had to go to the ER [after testing positive],” he said.

“It’s very hard to isolate people over there,” Moody said of the jail’s handling of the virus outbreak. “The jail does a good job. But it’s still as difficult as it would be [to contain an outbreak there] as it would be in any jail across the country.”

swade@bristolnews.com | 276-645-2511 | Twitter: @swadely

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