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Clark County jail sees COVID-19 case numbers rise

Updated July 22, 2020 - 4:13 pm

In less than two weeks, the number of Clark County Detention Center inmates who have tested positive for the coronavirus increased by about 65 percent.

In an email Tuesday, Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Larry Hadfield said 152 inmates had tested positive for the virus — including people who may no longer be in custody at the jail — an increase of 60 cases since July 9.

On July 9, 35 inmates with positive cases remained incarcerated at the jail. That number jumped to 49 people with positive results who remained in custody as of Tuesday.

In late June, Metro announced that from June 2-22, all inmates at the jail had been tested for the virus. Prior to June 2, 16 inmates had tested positive, but the number of cases jumped to 67 by June 30.

According to Metro’s 2019 annual report, the detention center had a daily average of 3,710 people in its custody last year, excluding those on house arrest. Inmates last fiscal year spent an average of three weeks incarcerated at the jail, the report said.

It was unclear how many people were incarcerated at the jail as of Wednesday.

Metro has attempted to reduce the number of people in the detention center since March, when officers were instructed to use discretion when making misdemeanor arrests, and issue citations for nonviolent crimes or traffic offenses, excluding DUIs.

Sheriff Joe Lombardo in April also ordered the release of up to 290 inmates to slow the spread of the virus.

According to data posted to Metro’s website, 132 department employees had tested positive as of Wednesday. An additional 61 Metro employees are awaiting test results, and a total of 662 employees have received a test.

Other jails and prisons

At the Las Vegas Detention Center, which is run by the city of Las Vegas, five inmates have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. None of those five remained in custody at the jail as of Wednesday, city spokesman Jace Radke said in an email.

The city jail, which had 265 people incarcerated as of Wednesday, has tested 523 inmates for the virus since the start of the pandemic, Radke said.

As of Wednesday, no inmates at the Henderson Detention Center have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Henderson Police Department spokesman Alan Olvera, although he directed questions regarding cases among immigration detainees housed at the jail to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The federal agency’s website, last updated Tuesday, did not list the Henderson jail as one of the facilities with detainees who have tested positive.

Olvera did not immediately respond to questions regarding how many inmates at the Henderson jail had received a test.

In the Nevada Department of Corrections prison system, into which inmates are booked less frequently than at the county jail level, 19 prisoners had tested positive for the virus as of Wednesday, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. Fifty-six department employees also had tested positive.

Nearly 29 miles west of the Clark County Detention Center, at least 40 percent of inmates in Pahrump’s Nye County Detention Center have tested positive, the majority of whom are immigration detainees. As of Wednesday, 41 inmates have tested positive for the virus in the Pahrump jail, which has had an average daily population of about 100 inmates during the pandemic, Nye County Sheriff’s Office Capt. David Boruchowitz has said.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at newberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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