Two former inmates who were booked into the King County Jail in Seattle and then transferred to the Maleng Regional Justice Center (RJC) in Kent have tested positive for the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness, according to the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention.
The inmates, who were both released after being booked on investigation of driving under the influence, are the first people with confirmed infections to have been inside a county correctional facility, says a news release issued by the department Tuesday. The Medical and Health Area Command, operated by Public Health — Seattle & King County, is trying to locate both former inmates and provide them with services, the release says.
Both former inmates had been transferred to the RJC and placed in “droplet protection” per recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent the spread of infectious disease, according to the county.
The first inmate was booked about 1 a.m. Friday and released about 3 a.m. Saturday; the second was booked about 3 a.m. Saturday and released about 7 p.m. Monday, according to the release.
Sixty-two adult inmates and one juvenile have been tested for the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, the release says.
Since mid-March, both jails have reduced the average daily inmate population by about 30%, with approximately 1,300 people now in custody, down from 1,899 on March 13, the release says. The juvenile population at the Children and Family Justice Center numbers 33 youths, down from 43, which has allowed the juveniles to have their own dorms.
Additionally, adult inmates who are considered most at risk for complications from COVID-19 — those who are 60 or older or have underlying health conditions — have been moved to a designated housing unit at the RJC, according to the release.