After inmate death, 102 Vigo County Jail inmates, 2 correctional officers test positive for coronavirus

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — An inmate at the Vigo County Jail last week collapsed and later died and was found to have had COVID-19, prompting all inmates and staff at the jail to be tested for coronavirus.

Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse reported Wednesday that 102 inmates tested positive for coronavirus, as have two correctional officers.

Frederick Whitlock, 56, died Friday at a local hospital. Plasse noted that the inmate’s cause of death has not been conclusively established by medical authorities. Nevertheless, the Sheriff’s Office contacted the Indiana State Department of Health for assistance and recommendations for testing inmates at the jail.

All 102 detainees are in the care of jail medical personnel and are stable, Plasse said, adding that no inmates have required hospitalization or any treatment beyond the scope of the jail’s medical staff on site. The two correctional officers are isolating until getting cleared to return to work.

Test results are pending on 11 other inmates.

The Sheriff’s Office said it has initiated a plan based on recommendations by the State Department of Health and in compliance with directives from the county courts: Positive-testing inmates have been segregated in the jail separately from inmates who have tested negative.

The county jail currently is under lockdown for an indefinite period until medical personnel advise that it is safe to resume normal operations. Food service has been adjusted, consistent with health care recommendations. Inmates will have limited access to visitors for a period of at least two weeks.

These steps are being re-evaluated daily based on ongoing testing and recommendations of medical personnel. The Sheriff’s Office has implemented multiple COVID-related protocols since earlier this year guided by medical staff and the Indiana State Department of Health. Detainee testing has occurred on the basis of symptoms. Until this week, no positive tests were reported.

New jail admittees are routinely quarantined for 14 days after admission and prior to transfer into the general jail population. This protocol also was cleared with public health authorities. Jail employees have been using masks for an extended period of time. Masks have been provided for discretionary use of detainees as of last Friday.

Family members of inmates may direct questions or concerns to the sheriffs office at (812) 462-3226, extension 7301.

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