Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office reports 62 employees, 254 people held in jail test positive for COVID-19

Dozens of Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office employees and more than 250 people held in the jail have tested positive for COVID-19, the office said in a statement Wednesday.

Facility-wide testing will be conducted between Wednesday and Friday.

The department said 62 employees and 254 people held in the jail had tested positive and attributed the increase in cases to the highly infectious omicron variant.

"If asymptomatic COVID-19 cases are detected through this round of testing, the Sheriff's Office will ensure all necessary isolation, tracing and quarantine protocols are enacted accordingly," the department said in the statement.

Staffing challenges have led the jail to make changes such as reducing recreational time, according to the statement.

The office's contingency plan includes transferring those held in the jail to other facilities and implementing "temporary crisis staffing protocols" that would allow the office to recall correctional officers who test positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic to work with people who are held in the facility and are also positive for the virus.

That approach would "only be implemented if all other options proved impossible," according to the statement.

Decisions are being made in consultation with Dr. Ben Weston, the county’s chief health policy advisor, and Wellpath, the jail’s medical provider, according to the statement.

Jail staff are required to wear KN95 masks, according to the statement. The department also said it is "working with partners in county government to ensure an adequate supply" of the masks and fitted respirators.

Contact Alison Dirr at 414-224-2383 or Follow her on Twitter @AlisonDirr.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee County Sheriff: 62 employees, 254 inmates positive for COVID