Burke County Detention Center on lockdown due to COVID-19

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BURKE COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) — For months, Burke County had few to no cases of COVID-19 in its detention center.

“It initially started out with one, two or three cases at the most,” Capt. Randall Norman, of the Burke County Sheriff’s Office, explains.

Those numbers recently spiked to a new high, leading the Burke County Sheriff’s Office to put the detention center on a 14-day lockdown.

“We basically tested everyone in the facility. We determined there were several more cases. I would say upward of a few dozen cases.”

NewsChannel 6 reached out to the East Central Health District. A spokesperson was not able to reveal exactly how many inmates have been infected.

Jails around the CSRA are battling this fourth wave of the pandemic. Out of more than one thousand inmates, 16 inmates and staff at the Charles B. Webster Detention Center were COVID-19 positive as of Thursday. The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office says inmates are screened when they are booked, given personal protective equipment and required to wear masks outside their cells. They are tested if they begin showing symptoms.

In Columbia County, inmates, who can not post bond, are quarantined for 10 days.

Back in Burke County, no visitors will be allowed into the detention center until further notice. Inmates will continue to be screened when they arrive.

“For three days, that subject is placed into a quarantine holding cell. They’re separated from the general population so we can determine within those three whether that person is going to test positive or negative for COVID-19.”

Masks will be required, and vaccines will continue to be made available. AS of Wednesday, 35 percent of inmates and 95 percent of staff had been vaccinated.

“Just because you’re a detainee housed in our detention center, we’re still going to treat you in a humane way and treat you as if you were one of our loved ones, so to speak.”

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