A jail of two timelines: The two sides of COVID-19 in the Allegheny County Jail

The Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh (Photo via The Pittsburgh Current).

By Charlie Deitch

At the beginning of March, Allegheny County officials and the rest of the state started preparing for the onslaught of the coronavirus.

By the middle of the month, a coalition of advocates, citizens, and elected officials demanded that as many inmates as possible be removed from the county jail to mitigate a major outbreak once the COVID-19 Virus got inside.

While there are still some discussions on whether everyone that could be released was released, a bigger problem was occurring inside the jail’s walls.

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Very early in this crisis, the media and members of the community were asking for more details on what was being done at the jail to stop the spread of the virus among inmates, employees, contractors, visitors, etc. Information was sparse.

Even two prominent members of the County Jail’s Oversight Board, County Controller Chelsa Wagner, and Allegheny County Councilor Bethany Hallam, couldn’t get updates and regular information.

In the past several weeks, jail employees and others have reached out to the Pittsburgh Current to tell stories of serious failure by the jail’s management to adequately prepare for and mitigate the arrival of the virus at the jail. The following timeline has been compiled from public documents, statements, interviews with employees and internal emails and documents obtained by the Pittsburgh Current.

View the timeline:

Allegheny County Jail Timeline. by jmicek on Scribd

Charlie Deitch is editor of the Pittsburgh Current, where this story first appeared.