Arlington, VA

An Arlington sheriff’s deputy has tested positive for COVID-19, raising fears of a wider outbreak in the county jail.

In a press release Thursday night, the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office said the ailing employee is “is doing well and managing the illness at home, with the full support of family and the office.”

The Sheriff’s Office performs a number of law enforcement functions in Arlington, the most prominent of which is running the Arlington County Detention Center.

“Public Health officials have initiated contact tracing of the individual to determine any potential spread to other personnel, inmates or the community whom they have come into close contact with,” the Sheriff’s Office said. “Individuals will be contacted directly if Public Health officials determine you may have been exposed. ACSO and Public Health will continue to monitor the individual’s condition and take necessary steps should any other agency personnel or inmates present symptoms.”

There have been calls nationwide — including by Arlington’s reform-minded top prosecutor —  to release non-violent offenders from jails and prisons due to the risk of rapid outbreaks in such facilities.

There are currently 225 inmates at the jail, according to ACSO spokeswoman Maj. Tara Johnson. That’s well below its capacity, which is currently in the mid-500s, Johnson said.

The Sheriff’s Office said it is taking a number of steps to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including daily temperature checks and symptom screening of staff and inmates, plus everything from daily cleanings to using disposable trays for meals.

“The steps the Sheriff’s Office has taken are continually reviewed by the Command Staff, which follows recommendations by the Virginia Department of Health,” the agency said. “These steps have and will continue to be modified regularly in order to best combat COVID-19. The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office takes the health and welfare of staff, the public and those placed into custody in the highest regard, treating every individual with dignity and respect and taking great pride and care in all work.”

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