Five Hennepin County jail inmates who tested positive for the novel coronavirus in recent days have since been released from custody, authorities said.
Detainees — many held pretrial — are released regardless of their test status at the discretion of the courts. Three tests are currently pending for individuals housed inside the jail, which became the first Twin Cities detention facility to record an infection last week.
Another 49 people in custody are sick and 12 were exposed to someone who was showing symptoms of COVID-19, according to the department’s online tracker. Those booked into the jail are screened for fever and given a mask to wear inside.
So far, one sheriff’s office employee has also tested positive for the respiratory disease, said Rob Allen, chief of staff for Sheriff Dave Hutchinson. Every employee is required to complete a questionnaire and pass a temperature check at the beginning of their shift, he said.
In recent weeks, county jails have moved to aggressively slash inmate populations to make room for potential quarantine space should an outbreak occur. Law enforcement agencies also suspended many jail bookings for nonviolent, low-level crimes that could easily be cited and released.
As of Thursday morning, the jail population hovered around 470 — a more than 40% reduction compared to early March.