Updated: January 11, 2021 06:53 PM
Created: January 11, 2021 06:43 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Monroe County Sheriff's Office unveiled its new COVID fighting tool on Monday, and say they've seen the number of new positivity rates among staff, and inmates drop drastically.
The office says it does not want a repeat of what happened during the Thanksgiving Holiday when several staff, and 33 inmates tested positive for COVID-19. An additional 173 other inmates were in protective quarantine.
For three weeks now, the office has seen some great results after implementing a new COVID-19 test program. They converted a sixth floor presentation room into their new test site complete with a waiting room, and five separate testing stations.
"It doesn't matter if you're a kitchen worker, you're a deputy, you're a nurse, if you're a rehab personnel, civilian," Capt. James McGowan said. "If you're gonna walk into the front door of our jail at the first day of every week, you are getting a test, and you're not going in there unless you test negative."
News10NBC watched as one deputy took his COVID-19 test before starting his shift. After filling out some paperwork he then proceeded to one of the test stations. There he self-administered a nasal swab test, which was then given to the person behind the results table. 15 minutes later the deputy found out that he tested negative for the virus, and was allowed to report for work. McGowan says over 1,200 tests have been given so far, and only 25 came back positive.
"So that's exactly 2.1% of our population," McGowan said.
Weekly numbers have been dropping.
"If you look at this week we're at zero percent. If you look at last week we're at 1.6%, but the week before we're at 3. So we're looking at a 50% decline over two weeks right here," McGowan said.
As far as getting their vaccines, McGowan says he's just waiting for the green light from Monroe County Public Health Officials. No word yet when that will happen, but as we speak deputies, and other front-line employees do qualify for the 1b vaccine. Unlike the COVID-19 test, these vaccines can't be administered by department personnel.
"Our medical vendor Prime Care has also offered to come in, and to assist with vaccinations just to help the community as a whole, so we're working through that right now," McGowan said.
He also told News10NBC the Office has been using court system personnel, and civil bureau staff members to operate their COVID testing site. That way no deputies, or jailers are put at risk if someone does come in positive for COVID-19.
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