By LIZ FREEMAN
Friday, August 7, 2009
NAPLES — Five inmates in the Collier County jail are in medical isolation for flu-like symptoms and another 69 inmates are under 72-hour quarantine because they had contact with the ill inmates, according to Collier County Sheriff’s officials.
The quarantine also meant some inmates did not attend court hearings Friday, a decision that was made by jail officials.
“We made the decision not to take them to court,” said Collier County Sheriff’s Capt. Joe Bastys who is in charge of the jail. “If (the courts) want them in court, we will take them to court.”
On Monday, the Collier County Health Department was notified about one female inmate with flu-like symptoms and the health department recommended putting the cell block under restricted activity, said Deb Millsap, spokeswoman for the health department.
Restricted activity means not allowing the cell block inmates to have contact with others and if they must leave the jail, they should be required to wear masks, she said.
Because of a cluster of three inmates last week whose tests results came back positive for swine flu, the health department is assuming anyone else in the jail with flu-like symptoms has swine flu, she said. That also means test samples are no longer being taken from inmates for sending to a state laboratory for confirmation.
Mark Middlebrook, the Collier County court administrator, said the court system is following the protocols of the health department and would never tell the jail to break their quarantine.
If there are requests by attorneys to postpone court hearings, the judge involved makes the decision based on its merits, he said.
“In general, we follow the requests and directive of the health department,” Middlebrook said. “If there is a need for a person to be in court, there are mechanisms for them to be in court.”
The current jail population is 956 inmates, said Karie Partington, a sheriff’s spokeswoman.
The quarantine for the 69 inmates is because of the potential of cross contamination. Besides no contact with other inmates during the quarantine, the 69 inmates are not being allowed to go outside during recreation time, she said.