CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Officials with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office said they are working with state health officials to get equipment to test inmates for coronavirus at the Al Cannon Detention Center.
“We’re in the process of working with DHEC, and our medical unit we believe may be in a position by the beginning of next week to start testing inmates ourselves,” Sheriff Al Cannon said during a press conference on Friday afternoon.
CCSO officials said late Friday afternoon that they have received confirmation of a COVID-19 testing machine being delivered to the facility on either Saturday afternoon or Monday morning.
Cannon also said masks have been given to people who have the virus and people who may have been exposed.
On Thursday, officials announced that a detention officer along with three more inmates at the Al Cannon Detention Center tested positive for COVID-19. So far, the center had had a total of six inmates test positive for COVID-19.
Cannon said to better the detention center’s efforts against the virus the sheriff’s office is also looking at releasing inmates who have misdemeanor or lesser charges.
Authorities said those with violent crime offenses will not be considered for release.
According to Cannon, the sheriff’s office is assisting with the court system to work out who can be released.
Cannon said the first inmate who tested positive for the virus stayed in a different and smaller housing unit with other inmates who did various jobs within the facility.
According to the sheriff, authorities checked their temperatures every morning, since they would be moving throughout the detention center compared to the other inmates who had more limited movement inside the center.
The housing unit where the affected inmates were staying in has been disinfected, the sheriff said.
Cannon also spoke about the detention officer who had tested positive for COVID-19 and said the sheriff’s office put his family in a hotel room to separate them from him while he self-quarantines.
“And we’re offering that to all employees,” Cannon said."That would be our plan, is put either the deputy, or maybe their family, if it’s appropriate to do so, in a motel room to facilitate their self quarantining and reducing the likelihood of infecting family members."