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Six Pinellas sheriff’s jail employees test positive for COVID-19; patrol deputy also diagnosed

Several inmates have been tested and isolated as a result of the jail outbreak, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

LARGO — The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19: Six jail employees and a patrol deputy assigned to the Dunedin substation have all tested positive for the coronavirus, the agency announced Tuesday.

At least nine inmates of the Pinellas County jail are now in isolation.

Three of the employees work in the inmate records department, in the same workspace and on the same shift, the Sheriff’s Office said. The first employee to be diagnosed was not symptomatic at work, officials said, and last worked at the jail on May 28.

The Sheriff’s Office started screening jail employees for the virus, and said it found two co-workers in inmate records with symptoms of the virus. They have since tested positive. The agency said the area was “thoroughly” disinfected and quarantined.

Related: Pinellas protesters are being held overnight in jail without bail

The Sheriff’s Office learned that two detention deputies and a social worker also tested positive, but did not say when they were diagnosed or what the response was in their work areas.

Nine inmates who were expose to the social worker, or have shown symptoms, were tested and have been placed in isolation waiting for their test results. Inmates who had contact with the two deputies were also quarantined, but the agency did not say how many. If any of those inmates were symptomatic, the agency said, they were also tested.

Then on Monday, a patrol deputy assigned to the North District Station at 2494 Bayshore Blvd. in Dunedin tested positive. The deputy was exposed while off-duty, the agency said, and is now under quarantine.

In April, a detention deputy tested positive. Correctional facilities are especially susceptible to the virus, so Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said then that he was working to isolate inmates and reduce bookings to reduce the chances of the virus spreading.

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