DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - The DeSoto County Detention Center is reporting its first COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started. The Sheriff’s Office said 11 inmates have tested positive for the virus.
The Mississippi Health Department has approved testing for more than 500 people inside the detention center. It’s expected to start in the coming days. Seventeen people were tested this weekend.
Those testing positive are jail trusties who are often tasked with doing work out in the community.
“We expected this maybe a long time ago,” Director of DeSoto Co. Detention Services Chad Wicker said.
Visitors are prohibited, the inmate trusty program is suspended, and the entire DeSoto Co Detention Center is being deep cleaned following the facility’s first group of positive COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.
“Saturday morning we received requests from a couple of inmates in the same pod who were not feeling well,” DeSoto Co. Chief Deputy Justin Smith said.
Smith said most of the 11 patients are asymptomatic.
“I was trying to let him stay there to learn from his mistake, not die from coronavirus,” the mother of one of the infected inmates, Tonya Thronberry, said.
Thronberry said her son complained to her about a headache, sore throat and loss of taste and smell early last week.
“My biggest concern for my son is his safety and health,” Thronberry said.
“We have on staff 24/7 medical staff,” Smith said. “We also have a physician on call. They’re being checked on multiple times a day.”
Smith did not speculate whether one of the trusties working in the community may have brought it back with him.
“There are 550 people in contact with each other on a daily basis, it’s hard to trace back exactly where this came from,” Smith said.
I’m concerned they’re not isolating it, and it’s going to continue to spread," Thronberry said.
Smith says all inmates are wearing masks since the discovery of the positive cases. He said before this incident only those inmates leaving the facility were given masks.
However, Thronberry said her son told her he’s concerned because inmates are not wearing masks.