TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) -- The Tippecanoe County jail is reporting an increase of 14 new Covid-19 cases on Friday. This now brings the total to 34 inmates currently positive for the virus.
Sheriff Bob Goldsmith reports while the bad news is Covid-19 has made its way into the jail, the good news is half of those inmates have been in quarantine for the past two weeks and are expected to test negative for the virus on Monday, Dec. 21.
"We don't want to say, you know, well this person's incarcerated so we don't care if they get sick, you know, they're human beings and we treat them as such," said Goldsmith.
On Wednesday, News 18 reported the jail had 20 inmates test positive for the virus this month after one inmate tested positive on Nov. 30. With 14 new cases now, Sheriff Bob Goldsmith is seeking solutions.
"Right now it's isolation and we will continue testing when they have symptoms, the type of tests we have right now don't work unless they have symptoms," said Goldsmith.
In addition to testing issues, Sheriff Goldsmith said there also aren't enough resources to test all 460 inmates. With cases rising, the jail is also facing the challenge of being able to isolate everyone. The Sheriff's office does not have the authority to let inmates with Covid-19 leave jail and isolate themselves at home. Sheriff Goldsmith said the courts would have to make the decision based on the inmate's accused crime and/or sentencing.
"Because of classification, the crimes that they're accused of, you can't stick certain groups of people with others so it isn't a matter of 'hey you have covid now all the sudden we can put the individuals together,' we still have to maintain that, we can't do that," said Goldsmith.
As the Covid-19 quarantine period is set to end on Monday for 17 of the inmates. Sheriff Goldsmith is staying hopeful and looking forward to case numbers decreasing and getting the jail Covid free again like it's been for the past nine months.
"Our number one priority is the safety and security of our jail and that's inmates and staff," said Goldsmith. "We did a good job as a team getting out in front of this early on, people work from home in shifts when they can and I think that helped keep the distancing."
Sheriff Goldsmith said none of the inmates with Covid-19 have needed to be hospitalized so far. He said they are also showing either mild to no symptoms at all.