Benton County Jail suffers first wide-scale COVID-19 outbreak of the pandemic

Benton County Justice Center — Stock Image (Benton County Jail)

KENNEWICK, Wash. — As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 surges across the nation and in the Tri-Cities, the Benton County Jail is observing a widescale coronavirus outbreak impacting more than 44% of inmates.

According to the Benton County Corrections Department, 97 inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus thus far in the outbreak. Another 91 inmates have been exposed to the virus and entered quarantine.

READ: Yakima County Jail suffers 50+ COVID-19 cases amidst outbreak

They account for 44.8% of the total jail population, which is approximately 420 inmates across 20 housing facilities. Everyone who has been exposed to the virus across eight housing facilities is being monitored and tested consistently to track the progress of this outbreak.

Additionally, a handful of Corrections Officers have contracted the virus and are missing work because of it. Six Corrections Officers are currently out with COVID-19. Plus, 18 others previously contracted and then recovered from COVID-19.

RELATED: Tri-Cities experience record-setting COVID spike amidst Omicron surge

The Benton County Jail staff is following guidance from public health leaders at the Benton-Franklin Health District; in addition to the National Sheriff’s Association and the Corrections Unit from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This is the first major COVID-19 outbreak observed at the Benton County Jail thanks to extensive preventative measures being taken by the staff. Surfaces that are touched often have been cleaned twice per day, all inmates are provided with masks, and incoming inmates are quarantined and tested for 10 days before being admitted.

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