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.


About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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