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Mississippi National Guard administers COVID-19 tests to inmates and staff at Desoto County Jail

This comes after nearly a dozen inmates tested positive for the coronavirus.

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss — UPDATE 9/16/2020 - (NEWS RELEASE) - The Mississippi State Department of Health conducted mass testing for COVID-19 at the DeSoto County Detention Center in Hernando, Friday, September 11th.

This decision was made after 11 inmates out of 17 previously tested positive for the virus.

265 inmates opted to test Friday.108 chose not to be tested. 36 staff members were also tested.

Results show 11 inmates tested positive for COVID-19. Six of those inmates were already quarantined due to symptoms. There are no serious cases. No inmates have been hospitalized.

Staff members tested negative.

The total number of positive cases is 22 inmates.

The 11 inmates who first tested positive have all recovered and are back in general population. The other 11 inmates are quarantined for several more days.

The DCSD is pleased with the low number of positive cases. Our staff has done an outstanding job keeping the jail sanitized and clean. Despite the risk, staff members have come to work every day during the pandemic. We are grateful for them and their unwavering dedication.


9/8/2020 - The Mississippi National Guard is heading for Hernando. And it’s for disturbances - they are heading to provide a massive coronavirus test to more than 600 inmates and staff at the Desoto County Jail.

This past Saturday a few inmates let staff know that something was seriously wrong with them.

Desoto County Chief Deputy Justin Smith says, “We received a request from a couple of inmates, that all are in the same pod. They were not feeling well. They thought they may have had COVID. We immediately got them tested.”

Eleven inmates tested positive. Two were showing signs they might have it. The inmates were isolated, all inmates and staff were ordered to wear masks (not all were wearing masks prior to this), and the facility is getting deep cleaned.

No staff members have been infected, but there is only one way to find out.

“They’re setting up a mass testing for every single inmate in the jail, and all of our jail staff,” says Chief Deputy Smith.

The tests will be run by the Mississippi National Guard.

“It’s all run through the health department,” says the Chief Deputy. “I believe the National Guard is the one administering the testing because they can scale up to 550 tests a day.”

The Desoto County Sheriff’s Department has had plans in place since the beginning of the year, according to Detention Services Director Chad Wicker.

“The elderly population,” he says, “… they are at high risk. You want to watch them and isolate them.”

The inmates testing positive have been isolated from other inmates. Staff members are speaking with them through a door.

Guidance specific for correctional facilities and detention centers during the outbreak of COVID-19, to ensure continuation of essential public services and protection of the health and safety of incarcerated and detained persons, staff, and visitors.