First inmate at Dartmouth jail tests positive for coronavirus

May 5, 2020

An inmate and a corrections officer at the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office recently tested positive for Covid-19, according to a May 5 press release from the office, marking the 11th and 12th cases at the facility.

Those who run the Bristol County House of Correction have seen intense scrutiny from government officials this week following a violent disturbance at the jail’s immigrations facility on May 1 in which three detainees were hospitalized.

According to the press release, the county jail inmate was sent to St. Luke's Hospital for a pre-existing medical condition on April 29. He was given a Covid-19 test the next day, and received a positive result on May 1.

The inmate returned that same day to the Dartmouth facility, where he was and currently remains housed in a single cell in the medical unit, the release stated. According to the Sheriff’s Office, he is being closely monitored by health care professionals.

The release noted that a medical team has been “continuously assessing” the inmate’s housing unit from before his hospital visit. No inmates in that unit have reported symptoms linked to Covid-19, according to the sheriff’s office.

The press release stated that the corrections officer was last at work on the hospital detail with the inmate at St. Luke's. He didn't feel well on April 30, left early and got tested, and was notified about the positive result on May 2. 

Both county jail inmates and immigrations detainees have spoken about their fears of a coronavirus outbreak at the facility, where people sleep in bunk beds just three feet apart. More than 40 immigrations detainees have been released after attorneys filed a federal lawsuit on their behalf.

"There are almost 70,000 Covid cases in Mass., including more than 4,000 in Bristol County," Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said Tuesday afternoon. "We feel very fortunate that none of the cases among our staff or the incarcerated population is life-threatening."

Currently, seven Bristol County Sheriff's Office staff members are away from the facility recovering from the virus. Four others have fully recovered and returned to duty.

According to the press release, the inmate is the first county prisoner in a Bristol County Sheriff's Office correctional facility to test positive for Covid-19.