Northern Michigan Jails Handle Inmate COVID Cases

Jails in northern Michigan are seeing more COVID cases, leaving many wondering how they’re able to handle them.

On Dec. 21, the Cheboygan County Jail had their first case of COVID in an inmate. That number soon rose to 34, and is now at only 10.

“We quarantine those individuals to certain cells,” said Sheriff Dale Clarmont. “They are not allowed in the general population of the inmates.”

The jail is cleaned three times a day, but more efforts are made when an inmate tests positive.

“Should there be a test that comes positive, then we have other protocols that we follow for sanitizing the area where the individual was and also include the cell where the individual was,” said Sheriff Clarmont.

The jail also has a large number of rapid tests to anyone showing symptoms or if they’re requested.

Emmet County Jail Administrator Brenda Ford said they quarantine every person that comes into the jail.

“They stay in certain areas of the jail and they don’t mix with the general population,” said Ford. “Once they meet the 14 day requirement and they don’t show any symptoms, they’re tested, and then they can be moved to general population.”

In a normal year, they would be able to hold 103 inmates, but have since had to lower the population.

“Since COVID started, we’ve been restricting our population so we can keep our quarantine status going, so our average population right now is 50 inmates,” said Ford.

Sheriff Clarmont says they will continue to operate this way until the pandemic comes to an end.