Mecklenburg jail temporarily bars respiratory isolation pod visits after COVID cases

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story wrongly said the jail was closed to visitors and that all inmates were in respiratory isolation. In a follow-up email to Charlotte media, the jail clarified its original news release to say the temporary closure applies only to the respiratory isolation pod and just three inmates were in the pod, officials said.

The Mecklenburg County Jai barred visitation at its respiratory isolation pod Friday for at least 48 hours after an inmate tested positive for COVID-19, the Sheriff’s Office said Friday.

Movement of “positive/exposed” inmates in the pod also has been restricted temporarily to prevent further spread of the coronavirus, jail officials said.

A recently admitted inmate at the Juvenile Detention Center in north Charlotte also tested positive for COVID-19 during the screening process, according to a Sheriff’s Office email.

Wellpath, the contracted health care provider at the jail, notified the Sheriff’s Office of the two cases.

A statewide mandate requiring masking in jails expired Friday evening. However, the Sheriff’s Office has opted to continue requiring face coverings at the uptown detention center, spokeswoman Janet Parker said Friday.

“As Mecklenburg County continues to see increases in COVID-19 cases in the community, we are not surprised that we are beginning to receive more reported cases of exposures inside our detention populations as well,” the Sheriff’s Office said in the email.

It’s unknown how many inmates have been vaccinated.

As of Tuesday, only 514 of 1,381 sheriff’s office employees had received a COVID-19 vaccination, Parker told the Observer in an email.

Not all of those positions are filled, however. The jail alone had 107 vacant positions as of Thursday, she said.

The Sheriff’s Office this week told jail employees they would need to work two extra days a month because of a staff shortage, the Observer reported. Parker listed “illness” among several reasons for the staff shortage.

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