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COVID cases put Atlantic County jail on lockdown

The Atlantic County Justice Facility went on lockdown this week after several corrections officers and inmates tested positive for COVID-19.
But exactly how many are infected isn’t clear cut, some inside the jail say.
“There are presently seven officers who have tested positive for COVID-19 and two inmates,” Atlantic County spokeswoman Linda Gilmore told BreakingAC. “The positive inmates have been isolated and the positive officers are at home in isolation, as per protocols.”
That number would be much higher if everyone showing symptoms was being tested, several inmates told BreakingAC.
“So many people are sick,” Felix Beltran Sr. said, estimating that 36 of the 40 men in his section are symptomatic.
“It’s Day 7 for me,” he said.
It started with a headache and then coughing with upper respiratory issues.
Now, he has lost his sense of smell and taste.
“I definitely can’t taste or smell,” said Rumiejah Norwood, another inmate at the jail.
He can’t get tested because he doesn’t have a fever, even though he said he has all the other symptoms.
The men say they are given cold medicine and sent on their way.
“They’re not trying to test people, so we’re just sitting here suffering,” said Iree Jones. “Once it started spreading, they just locked us down.”
When asked about not testing symptomatic inmates, Gilmore said only that “the jail continues to follow all (Centers for Disease Control) practice and guidance for mitigation, identification and treatment for the virus.”
She also said the lockdown was “a proactive effort (by the warden) to prevent any additional spread.”
A timeline has not been given for the lockdown, but it will be re-evaluated after 14 days, Gilmore said.
“We’re giving it to each other,” Jones said.
While people wear masks and try to stay six feet part on the outside, inmates say it’s impossible to social distance when you have three men in a cell originally meant for two.
And, in lockdown, that means the cell is where they stay for all but an hour a day.
“While I’m talking to you, I’m waiting for the cleaning cart,” Jamel Carlton said of the products inmates use to sanitize their cells.
He estimated he would only have a few minutes to use the cleanser he said is watered down before he had to be confined to his cell.
“They’re not sanitizing the place,” Jones said. “It’s basically take care of yourself in here.”
The 27-year-old said he has lost three family members to COVID, including a cousin who is his age.
“It’s getting closer and closer to home,” Jones said. “I don’t want to wait until somebody in here dies.”


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