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COVID-19 cases in Clark County jail up 37 percent since late June

The number of positive COVID-19 cases at the Clark County Detention Center has increased by about 37 percent since late June.

When the Metropolitan Police Department tested all inmates in its custody for the coronavirus, 67 had tested positive as of June 22. On Thursday, the department announced that 92 inmates had tested positive, an increase of 25. Of those 92 inmates, 35 were still in custody.

According to Metro’s 2019 annual report, there was a daily average of 3,710 people in the detention center’s 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.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic swept through Nevada, the department has attempted to reduce the number of people incarcerated at the jail to help prevent the virus’ spread.

In March, police officers were instructed to use discretion when making misdemeanor arrests, and issue citations for nonviolent crimes or traffic offenses, excluding DUIs. However, during anti-racism and police brutality protests in late May and June, the department booked hundreds of protesters into the Clark County Detention Center on suspicion of charges such as failing to disperse.

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

New inmates tested at the jail are being housed temporarily in an “intake housing module” before they’re placed in general population, Metro spokesman Larry Hadfield has said. Inmates who arrive at the jail and say they have been to a “hot spot state or country” are being placed in quarantine for 10 days.

The department has said that all employees at the jail are required to wear face masks, and inmates are required to wear masks when they leave their cells or are off of their bunk in the open dormitories. Inmates who are symptomatic are isolated and monitored pending the outcome of their test results, police said.

Contact Alexis Ford at aford@reviewjournal.com 702-383-0335. Follow @alexisdford on Twitter.

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