By Charlie Deitch
PITTSBURGH — An employee at Allegheny County jail has tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Friday.
“The employee did not provide direct care to inmates at the jail and has not been at work since the afternoon of Thursday, March 19, the release says. At this time, there are no positive cases of COVID-19 among direct-contact employees or inmates and all individuals with access to the facility are being strictly monitored for signs and symptoms of the virus,” officials said in a statement.
The statement continued: ” The jail continues to follow the guidance provided by the Allegheny County Health Department as it relates to the safety of employees and inmates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact tracing has been completed and impacted colleagues of the employee are being contacted with instructions for self-quarantine. As is anticipated with community spread, there is an expectation that COVID-19 will soon impact not only county facilities and departments, but the entire region. For communication purposes, the county will make public notifications related to county facilities and departments when the positive cases impact a greater population than its employees.”
In the past 10 days elected officials, and advocates for incarcerated individuals have been calling for the release of as many inmates as possible. County Councilors Bethany Hallam and Olivia Bennett introduced legislation to allow county council to hasten the release of inmates. However, a majority of council refused to even discuss the emergency legislation for two weeks.
Through Friday afternoon, 545 inmates have been released from the county jail which has a population of well more than 2,000.
Charlie Deitch is editor of the Pittsburgh Current, where this story first appeared.