Actions

COVID cases on the decline in Cascade County jail

Detention officer Corporal Shelby Watson
Posted at 6:05 PM, Oct 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 20:07:46-04

GREAT FALLS — As the number of cases of COVID-19 continue to increase across the state, one place they’re decreasing is in the Cascade County Detention Center.

Detention officer Benjamin Aliperto said that dealing with the virus in the jail has not been easy: "It's definitely added a new sense of responsibility, but also I think just heightened awareness and realizing that we have to understand that the things that we're doing could honestly just add more opportunities for people to take advantage of different situations."

The inmates have also been feeling the pressure of the coronavirus. "I think as things were going on and they were seeing the care that we had for them and the medical staff had for them, I believe it definitely eased tensions,” Aliperto said.

Dozens of inmates and nearly 20 detention officers have tested positive since the pandemic began, but as of Wednesday there were only two positive cases in inmates in the county side of the detention center.

Detention officer Corporal Shelby Watson said at first, the cases were worrisome. "Wondering if you're going to bring it home to your family or not. But at the end of the day, we have a job to do here. Everyone worked well as a team,” Watson said.

That teamwork implementing the sheriff's office's plan for controlling the virus is what Sheriff Jesse Slaughter credits for the success in reducing the number of coronavirus cases.

The first step was to get other Sheriff's offices across the state to take some of the state Department of Corrections inmates to free up space in the detention center.

Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter explained, "We were able then to create a quarantine pod. It’s a plan on how we can take people who are unknown, bring them into the facility and keep them safe."

He said the success takes a lot of pressure off the detention center staff, knowing they have a plan that works. The plan will be used for any future COVID-19 cases.