In his first official update in nearly two months, the Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey informed judicial officials in a letter Friday of eight active COVID-19 cases among inmates at the county jail, and that all medical personnel there have been vaccinated.
“As of today’s date all medical providers within the Jail Complex have been offered COVID-19 vaccinations pursuant to Phase 1 of the Florida COVID-19 Vaccination Plan,” reads the Jan. 29 letter obtained by FLORIDA TODAY Monday.
“Additionally Circles of Care has generously offered to provide a limited number of excess COVID-19 vaccinations to sworn Corrections Deputies working at the Jail Complex,” Ivey wrote.
According to Circles of Care, some 75 first doses were provided to the BCSO and 50 to Melbourne Police Department. Circles of Care said these were doses left over after their allocation was used to inoculate its staff and at-risk patients. Sheriff Ivey has been on the board of directors of Circles of Care since 2014.
Ivey’s report noted eight active cases of the novel coronavirus in the inmate population. No mention was made if any staff were infected. Unlike in prior reports, a running total of cases or information about pending tests was not included in the latest notice. Questions to BCSO spokesman Tod Goodyear about the formatting changes, vaccine allocations and staff cases went unanswered by press time.
According to the last report, dated Dec. 3, the number of confirmed infections so far was 63 inmates and 26 staff. Assuming there are no cases beyond the eight current cases, the total number of infected inmates to date reported stands at 71.
A spokesperson for BCSO’s healthcare c, Corizon Health, said Tuesdaythat the number of inmate tests administered through Feb. 1 was 313, with 237 negative results and 75 positive results and 1 result pending. This means 71 tests were performed since Dec. 3.
The discrepancy between Corizon’s reported positive cases, 75, and the 71 tallied from the BCSO’s updates could not immediately be explained. The sheriff’s office has so far refused to comment.
The number of inmates at the Jail on Monday was 1608.
Infectious disease protocols have been in place at the jail, according to Ivey’s letter. These include:
- A mask mandate within the jail
- Quarantine periods for new inmates
- Increased daily disinfection and cleaning
- Increased hygiene supply and laundry cleaning
- Additional “medical screening procedures” to identify potential cases
- Staff and inmate education
- Limiting access to the jail to essential personnel
“All steps are being taken to protect the Jail Complex community as recommended by the CDC and DOH,” Ivey wrote.
The first case within the Brevard County Jail, a corrections deputy, was reported in an April 17 letter by Ivey. The first inmate case was reported on Jul. 24.
The bulk of the cases found within the Jail complex were the result of a single round of widespread testing by the Department of Health on Aug. 6, that found 48 cases out of 174 tests conductedin a single cell block.
Previously, Assistant County Health Department Director Anita Stremmel in an email to FLORIDA TODAY said: “The jail tests symptomatic cases when needed. We are in regular communication with them and our epidemiology staff provide guidance in relation to any quarantine of inmates in the event of a positive case.”
Barry Inman, an epidemiologist with DOH-Brevard said in prior comments to FLORIDA TODAY that an institution such as the jail susceptible so long as the coronavirus remains evident in the community.
“I can’t guarantee anything in any place with that this virus is very evident in the community,” he said.
Brevard County’s 7-day average of new daily cases has topped 100 infections since Oct. 27 and exceeded 200 daily reported infections since Dec. 16.
Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon is a watchdog reporter for FLORIDA TODAY. Contact him at 321-355-8144, or [email protected] Twitter: @alemzs