CLEVELAND — 21 inmates at the Cuyahoga County Jail have tested positive for coronavirus, officials confirmed to 3News Saturday.
The number at the facility is now more than triple what it was just over a week ago, when six inmates were confirmed to have the virus. At the time, County Executive Armond Budish said staffers were "prepared to handle this" and that all the cases were confined to one pod; it is unknown if the latter detail has now changed with the increase.
With inmates confined so close to one another, health experts have singled out jails and prisons as potential hot spots for COVID-19. Three inmates have died from the virus at the Elkton Federal Prison in Columbiana County, and Gov. Mike DeWine has since identified 167 prisoners across the state that will be eligible for earlier release in an effort to lessen the prison population and help with social distancing.
Cuyahoga County leaders also say they are looking at ways to "steadily" decrease the number of inmates. Per DeWine's orders, visitation at the facility has also been banned indefinitely.
In the year-plus prior to the pandemic, the Cuyahoga County Jail had already been embroiled in scandal, as inmate deaths and reports of poor conditions and abusive staff led to scathing reviews from state and federal investigations along with several pending lawsuits. Just last week, Warden Gregory Croucher resigned after less than eight months on the job.
The exact conditions of the inmates are unknown at this time, although the county said none of the first six patients from last week needed to be hospitalized. One inmates test results are also still pending.
Watch our look inside the jail from back in January: