Meal services interrupted by new COVID-19 cases at the Clark County Jail


The Clark County Sheriff’s Office denies reports inmates were served frozen fish sticks for dinner

VANCOUVER — Rumors of Clark County Jail inmates being served frozen fish sticks after COVID-19 shut down the kitchen are untrue, said Clark County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Brent Waddell on Thursday.

Waddell confirmed the jail’s kitchen had been closed after two people working there tested positive earlier this week.

“There was an issue with the backup food supply,” he said, “and so we purchased food from Burgerville, and then yesterday we purchased food from Domino’s (pizza).”

The kitchen at the Clark County Jail was closed this week after two people working there tested positive earlier this week. File photo
The kitchen at the Clark County Jail was closed this week after two people working there tested positive earlier this week. File photo

Cases had surged to 44 earlier this week, said Sheriff Chuck Atkins at a council meeting earlier in the day, but only 27 inmates were on quarantine as of Thursday morning. None of the ill inmates had needed to be hospitalized.

Atkins said six staff members were currently quarantined, with three others out ill with non-COVID-related illnesses as of Thursday. 

The effort to reduce the jail population in order to allow space for quarantining new inmates or isolating people who’ve tested positive has put a strain on services, such as food service and laundry. 

Usually the jail utilizes low-risk offenders to do those jobs, but most of them have been released.

“And so we had some of our people from the support branch, from the corrections branch, down there taking care of business,” says Waddell.

After the positive tests, those individuals had to quarantine, leaving no one to work in food services. 

Waddell said the jail hopes to have a contract by the end of this week with an outside vendor to supply meals, including to inmates with special dietary restrictions.

“We’re working on it,” said Waddell, “but they’re actually getting their meals close to what they were before.”

On Thursday, members of the Clark County Council agreed to continue looking into the potential of security upgrades at the Work Center, which could allow more serious offenders to be housed there. The Sheriff’s Office determined state law would not allow adult inmates to be housed at the Juvenile Detention Center, even with security measures in place.

A report on possible costs of the modifications at the JWC was expected potentially as soon as next week, and the county was looking into whether CARES Act funding could be used to cover at least some of the cost.

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