ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. — At least one inmate at the St. Tammany Parish Jail has tested positive for COVID-19, sheriff's officials said Saturday.
In a statement, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office said that one inmate began showing symptoms earlier in the week and was immediately placed in isolation.
That inmate's test came back positive Friday evening.
All of the inmates in his housing unit were placed on lockdown as a precaution, STPSO said.
The 57 inmates in that housing unit are being monitored for COVID-19.
Four of those inmates have already started showing symptoms, including low-grade fevers and have been placed in a separate quarantine housing unit.
Their coronavirus test results are pending.
According to the sheriff's office, all inmates who leave the facility are quarantined for 14 days upon their return.
Prisons are believed to be perfect breeding grounds for the virus, because inmates are in close proximity to each other nearly all hours of the day.
This threat has led to the mass emptying of the Orleans Parish Jail, which has reduced its jail population by more than 25% since the outbreak began.
Several lawsuits from civil rights groups are also pending against Louisiana prisons to release some nonviolent offenders and asylum seekers because of the high risk of catching the disease.
Inmates at several other prisons have caught coronavirus, and at least one employee of the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office has died of COVID-19.