COVID-19 Outbreak at Thurston County Jail Improves, Status Set to Change

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The second COVID-19 outbreak at the Thurston County jail may officially come to a close this week as no new cases have occurred since Jan. 28.

Thurston County Public Health and Social Services closes outbreaks if there have been no new positive cases for 28 days. The current outbreak has been ongoing since Jan. 13, resulting in 24 incarcerated persons and five staff testing positive for the virus, wrote county spokesperson Megan Johnson in an email statement.

At the time, county sheriff John Snaza also tested positive for the virus but reported feeling asymptomatic. He has since been cleared by a doctor and has not experienced any residual symptoms, he said.

"Even though I was positive, I didn't have the effects," Snaza. "I didn't lose taste or smell. I didn't feel ill or anything like that... I don't even like saying I had it because, you know unfortunately, a lot of people have been very sick because of it. I don't want to downplay the effects of what COVID-19 is."

Snaza said the situation at the county jail has improved over the last month. He said there are no active cases and an affected dorm has resumed to operate as it did before the outbreak.

"They were all out of one certain dorm and then there was one deputy who had been affected that was in that dorm as well," Snaza said. "They were all quarantined. The deputy is back to work and the inmates are back in the area."

The last round of testing occurred Feb. 8 and no further testing is planned unless incarcerated persons or staff begin to show symptoms, according to Johnson. She added no individuals are still in isolation or quarantine.

Anyone who appears symptomatic or tests positive is placed in isolation while those who may have had contact with such people are placed in quarantine, Snaza said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends individuals remain in isolation for 10 days.

"For the majority of individuals who test positive for COVID-19, they isolate for 10-days following onset of symptoms or from the test date if they are asymptomatic," Johnson wrote. "No additional testing is needed after the isolation period is completed per CDC guidance."

Snaza said he has not tested for COVID-19 again since he first tested positive. Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 may still test positive for about three months despite not being contagious, according to the CDC.

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