“…officially, you guys have an outbreak going on”

by Robin Kemp

Correspondence between the Clayton County Health District’s epidemiologist and CorrectHealth nursing employees at the Clayton County Jail, filed in U.S. Federal District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, show the jail knew it had a COVID-19 outbreak, affecting both inmates and staff, as early as April 22.

In addition, the Clayton County Health District had held a conference call with the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department’s Department of Nursing on March 5, after which CCHD’s emergency preparedness and response director instructed nursing staff to submit a request for “expired N95 Mask for staff only.”

The e-mails are public records requested by Nicholas Barber, an investigator and paralegal for the Southern Center for Human Rights, in the pending case Jones v. Hill. In that case, 12 current and former inmates allege Sheriff Victor Hill and jail leadership did not take precautions to halt the spread of COVID-19 in the Clayton County Jail.

On July 2, Hill’s legal advisor, Alan Parker, said in a Nixle post, “There is no outbreak of COVID-19 in our facility.” Parker added, “The media has falsely exaggerated the facts to suit their story. As the Legal Advisor for the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office,  I have reviewed the allegations in the lawsuit, and we will vigorously defend against this lawsuit in a court of law, not in the press.”

As of July 9, 72 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19, according to an e-mail from Dr. Olatanwa Adewale to Barber.

On July 7, The Clayton Crescent reported that at least 68 inmates had tested positive and one had died, according to Adewale.

More on this breaking story shortly.