Yesterday the Pima County Sheriff's Department announced that four employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
The employees, including one correctional staff member from the county jail, have been placed on pandemic leave.
The corrections staff member had been away from work for unrelated reasons since April 17, according to a department press release. The employee's immediate coworkers were notified of the positive case and given information about proper contract tracing.
The sheriff's department is confident that no other people were put at risk because the employee was away from work, but this news comes as many criminal justice reform advocates are calling on local, state and federal officials to drastically reduce prison populations because of the increased risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Jails and prisons confine large groups of people together in close spaces, which makes social distancing impossible. There have also been reports
of a lack of personal protective equipment and sanitary items available to state prison staff and people incarcerated there.
The sheriff's department stated that no other correctional staff or any incarcerated individuals have tested positive for the virus.
"During this unprecedented crisis, the Pima County Sheriff's Department will continue to serve the public," the release states. "We will do so in accordance with public health guidance. We will maintain the safest working environment possible for our employees and will continue to ensure the safety of the inmates in our custody."
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona reached 7,648 as of Thursday, April 30, according to the morning report from the Arizona Department of Health Services. Pima County had 1,241 confirmed cases.
The coronavirus had killed 320 people statewide, including 80 in Pima County, according to the report. In Maricopa County, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had risen to 3,972.