Jail inmate tests positive for COVID-19, officer who made arrest quarantined

There has also been a big jump in the number of cases at MCF-Willow River.
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coronavirus, coronavirus test, covid-19

An inmate at the Beltrami County Jail in Bemidji has tested positive for COVID-19, with the officer who made the arrest being quarantined.

The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office confirmed on Tuesday that within the last week the jail has seen an inmate confirmed as having the virus.

What's more, during the arrest, the officer who took them into custody received what is being termed as a "high risk exposure" to the inmate, which was described as a "close contact arrest" that meant the officer was "unable to maintain social distancing guidelines."

"Due to procedures put in place at the beginning of the pandemic, the arrested subject was accepted into the Beltrami County jail following strict MDH, CDC and MN DOC guidelines and is currently being quarantined" the sheriff's office said.

The inmate was also interviewed about who they may have come into contact with prior to their arrest.

So far in Minnesota, there have only been two major outbreaks of COVID-19 at Minnesota prisons and jails.

The first one was reported at MCF-Moose Lake, where the Minnesota Department of Corrections now says there are 14 confirmed cases and 31 presume positive cases among the prison populations.

But now emerging are problems at nearby MCF-Willow River, a DOC minimum security boot camp for nonviolent offenders.

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On Friday, only three inmates at Willow River had tested positive for COVID-19, but as of Tuesday morning that number has risen to 10, with 6 more presumed positive.

MPR News reported on Monday that Moose Lake and Willow River share a warden and some staff.

Prison and jail inmates are considered a priority for COVID-19 testing due to the risk of the virus spreading in congregate living settings.

The ACLU sued last week for the early release of some inmates from Moose Lake as it said they weren't safe at the prison, claiming prison officials have not put sufficient protections in place for those incarcerated.

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