10 Kitsap County Jail inmates test positive for COVID-19

This is the second outbreak since the start of the pandemic

By Mike De Felice

Special to Kitsap Daily News

PORT ORCHARD – Ten inmates at the Kitsap County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19 and are now isolated from the general population, according to the sheriff’s office.

This is the second outbreak at the jail since the start of the pandemic. In late June, 13 inmates came down with COVID, officials reported.

No staff members are believed to have contracted COVID in the Aug. 20 outbreak, said Sgt. Ken Dickinson, a spokesman for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

Jail staff was first alerted to the situation when an inmate housed in one of the facility’s dormitories began to experience symptoms that led to a positive COVID test, Dickinson said. Following additional testing, nine others in the same dorm also registered positive results. Meanwhile, the other inmates in the dorm were quarantined to contain the spread of the virus, he added.

The dorm housing the affected inmates contained between 15-20 individuals at the time, he said.

A new protocol was initiated following the latest outbreak, Dickinson said. Wearing N-95 masks is now required for inmates and jail staff, a change from allowing conventional masks to be worn, Dickinson said. Attorneys who do face-to-face visits to talk with clients are now also required to wear N-95 masks.

“The jail is providing masks if we don’t have our own,” said Steve Lewis, the county’s chief public defender. Public defenders routinely visit the jail to meet with clients.

“I think our jail has done a really good job since the onset of the pandemic in keeping [COVID] out of the facility. The latest outbreak was likely inevitable at some point, given the exceptionally contagious nature of the virus,” Lewis said.

Members of the public who enter the jail to see those in-custody now visit with inmates through a glass window using phones. Those visitors are only required to wear regular masks when entering the jail.

The jail has used strict protocols since the start of the pandemic, the sheriff’s office spokesman said. For example, all new inmates are tested for COVID, then quarantined before being allowed into the jail’s general population.

“We have been dealing with this pandemic for about a year and half. At the very beginning, we put in strict protocols and have been following them. This has helped keep COVID exposure limited,” Dickinson said.