Clay County Jail battles COVID outbreak

CLAY COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – Anyone who doubts how fast the coronavirus can spread can ask Clay County Jailer Linda Smallwood for some thoughts.

Smallwood went from one staff member testing positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 23 to 67 inmates and 13 staff having tested positive as of Monday morning.

“It’s amazing at how fast it spreads,” Smallwood said Monday morning.

The inmates mark more than 25 percent of the jail’s 235 population. The staff are about a third of the normal 35 to 40 people who work the detention center.

Smallwood and her team have been able to isolate the inmates who have tested positive in two blocks with those who have tested negative in separate quarters.

To make up for the staff members who have tested positive and are quarantined, Smallwood said, “We’ve been working a lot of overtime to be able to cover it all.”

“We’re doing everything we can to try to keep everyone safe.”

She said fortunately, most of the inmates have shown little or no symptoms. “A few have shown mild symptoms,” she said.

After the one staff member tested positive on Oct. 23, the jail had three more staff and an inmate test positive. That prompted Smallwood to order tests of all staff and inmates, confirming the outbreak.

The quarantine and isolation means families aren’t able to see their families as the jail staff tries to keep the virus from being brought in from the community.

“I know that upsets families and I wish I could provide updates on every person, but I just haven’t had time,” she lamented.




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