A fifth detainee booked at the Taos County jail in the last two weeks has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to county public information officer Anissa Arrambide.
She said New Mexico State Police jailed the individual on new charges on Friday (Oct. 16). As per jail policies, the detainee was tested upon entry into the facility and released on Oct. 20. The positive result was returned on Thursday (Oct. 22), Arrambide said. She added that jail staff had kept the detainee in an isolation cell that has since been cleaned.
"The Taos County Adult Detention Center personnel followed all established safety protocols," Arrambide wrote in a press release sent on Thursday. "Our staff is wearing their PPE and continue to stay vigilant in their safety practices. Detention Center staff have sanitized the cell occupied by the detainee. At the time of this release, Taos County Detention Center is not housing any positive (+) COVID-19 detainees."
All jail staff and personnel have been tested, with no positives reported among staff as of Thursday.
Arrambide said the county did not know whether the individual who tested positive was self-isolating or if he or she is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The county has not provided information regarding the age or sex of any of the positive cases, though the New Mexico Department of Health continues to publicize such demographic data about positive cases reported elsewhere in the state.
The four other positive cases reported at the county jail since Oct. 11 have included three people who were transferred from Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque on Oct. 8 and 9.
Arrambide said previously that all three had been released, with only one who was sent to Holy Cross Medical Center for treatment for COVID-19. She did not have further information as of Thursday whether that individual was still being treated at the hospital or had been discharged.
The fourth positive was reported on Oct. 13 after Taos Police Department booked a local suspect, who was also later released.
The five cases at the county jail are the first to be reported at the facility since the pandemic began and come at a time when New Mexico has experienced a surge in cases that prompted Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to reinstate previous restrictions meant to stem the virus's spread.
New Mexico's rolling seven-day average daily cases count reached its highest point just last week at 563 cases and has since risen to 599 on Thursday, well above the state's gating marker of 168 new cases per day. Taos County's case count has grown by 27 cases since Oct. 11, rising from 154 to 181.
Updates provided by the department of health did not reflect any of the now five cases reported at the Taos County jail, however, leaving a question as to how those cases are being recorded and under which county or counties. If recorded locally, the cases in the jail would comprise a little more than 18 percent of the new cases in Taos County in the last two weeks.
Nora Sackett, a public information officer for the department, had not responded to an email from the Taos News earlier this week, inquiring as to how the cases at the jail are being tracked by the state.