Friday, Tulsa County Sheriff's Office announced new COVID-19 rapid testing for all new people being booked into the jail, employees, and inmates being moved to other facilities. The results from the new machine only take 15 minutes.
Before the jail had to wait up to five days and inmates were placed in a holding cell while they waited for the results.
There are currently around 1,100 inmates in David L Moss Criminal Justice Center and Tulsa County Sheriff's Office said the positive COVID-19 numbers are low. "Every day I get up and thank God that we don't see more cases because like the sheriff said early on. We're a big old cruise ship," said David Parker, Tulsa County Jail Administrator.
Parker said he believes an early response by jail staff t quarantine new people in pods has kept the rest of the inmates healthy and away from possible exposure. "We have given 1693 tests with five coming back positive for the COVID-19. Those five were tested and remained in our safety pods," said Sheriff Vic Regalado.
Sheriff Regalado said the new machine is a game-changer to now be able to get the results for COVID-19, the flu, and strep throat in just 15 minutes. He said they can test people before they're moved to another jail or sent into the general population. The shorter wait also cuts down on the isolation time for people who don't have the virus.
"So now we've added this next layer which within 15 minutes we could have a test and then there wouldn't be the need for isolation," said Parker. They said the rapid testing is worth the cost.
"We have ordered a package consisting of the machine and two thousand tests. Each of the tests costs about 35 dollars so right now we're looking at about a 70 thousand dollar price tag," said Sheriff Regalado.
Sheriff Regalado said the testing is not just for inmates, but also for jail employees. He said the rapid testing for positive cases is about 85% accurate, and for a negative test it's 99% accurate.