SUNNYSIDE — The Sunnyside Law and Justice Center, Municipal Jail has one inmate in isolation and three staff members at home in self-quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19, according to Police Chief Al Escalera.
In a statement released by the city Monday, May 11, the Sunnyside Police Department received notice on May 9 of a confirmed COVID-19 case with a city jail inmate. The inmate is a trustee worker who began having symptoms late last week, the release said.
The inmate remains in isolation with limited contacts, and jail staff are following public health recommendations, City Manager Martin Casey reported.
Chief Escalera affirmed, “We are working diligently to limit the spread of this disease and continue our firm commitment to keeping our community and our employees as safe as possible.”
The Yakima Health District staff are working closely with city officials on steps for managing the outbreak. An investigation was conducted to identify all close contacts to the individual, including jail and police staff and additional testing was conducted. Results from the testing will be available in the next few days.
“COVID-19 in jails is particularly concerning because the inmates live in close quarters where social distancing cannot be maintained,” Yakima District Health Officer Dr. Teresa Everson said.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Police Department staff have been applying public health guidance and preparing for this possibility.
Jail occupancy has been maintained below 50% through law enforcement and criminal justice efforts to manage the jail population carefully.
“We hope for a full and speedy recovery of everyone infected. COVID-19 is very serious in our community,” Mayor Francisco Guerrero said. “I urge Sunnyside residents to help reduce further spread by practicing social distancing, wearing masks in public, and staying home if able.”
The Yakima Health District has been in communication with the Sunnyside facility since March on recommended infection prevention measures.
These infection prevention measures include using Personal Protective Equipment, developing plans for grouping symptomatic residents together, enforcing visitor limitations and communicating proactive sick leave policies for staff.
“I know all city staff join the Mayor and me in our heartfelt concern for the well-being of our police department colleagues and for the inmates in our custody and care,” Casey added.