Garfield County Jail dealing with another COVID-19 outbreak |

Garfield County Jail dealing with another COVID-19 outbreak

Garfield County jail and county public health officials are working to keep a COVID-19 outbreak at the jail in check.

Over the holiday weekend, Garfield County Public Health contact investigators were informed of an outbreak at the jail, Public Health Specialist Carrie Godes confirmed Wednesday.

Garfield County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Walt Stowe said two inmates tested positive for COVID-19 about 10 days ago, followed by more cases over the Thanksgiving holiday and the ensuing weekend.

“We tested all of the inmates in those pods and isolated those who tested positive,” Stowe said. “Of those, only two were showing symptoms.”

The two symptomatic individuals are currently in 14-day quarantine, or until they get a negative test before they will be allowed to return to their pods, he said.

Godes said Public Health is working with jail staff on mitigation efforts to contain further spread and to get an accurate number of those impacted.

The cases at the jail have not yet been reported as an official outbreak on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website until that number is known.

Godes noted that correctional facility inmates are particularly susceptible to COVID-19 outbreaks due to living in close proximity to one another.

“Frequent inmate turnover also makes vaccination efforts difficult,” she said. “The health department has held several vaccination clinics at the jail and is working to set up monthly vaccination clinics for inmates.”

Stowe also acknowledged the difficulty of vaccinating and testing jail inmates, since many are in and out of the facility within a day or two.

After the pandemic began in spring 2020, the jail also reduced the number of inmates it would take in to those charged with more serious offenses. Many of those charged with municipal-level offenses are now booked and released on personal recognizance bonds.

News of the latest outbreak comes as Garfield County’s COVID-19 case count inches back up following the holiday.

As of Wednesday, the previous seven-day period, from Nov. 25-Dec. 1, saw 200 new cases confirmed, including 27 cases reported on Wednesday alone. That was compared to 122 for the stretch from Nov. 18-24, and a daily case count of 15 on Nov. 25.

The county’s seven-day incidence rate has also gone back up to 324 cases per 100,000 people, with a COVID-19 test positivity rate of 10%. The county is also reporting two new deaths this week due to complications from COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 69 since the pandemic began.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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