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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

More than half of Geiger Corrections Center inmates have COVID-19

The exterior of Building A is seen during a tour of Geiger Correctional Facility in Spokane in this February 2019 photo. A is housing all COVID-positive inmates and has room for more than 130.  (Libby Kamrowski)

More than half of Geiger Corrections Center inmates had COVID-19 as of Friday, but the facility has enough space to keep isolation and quarantine floors separate for now.

Geiger Corrections Center in Airway Heights reported 79 positive inmates and the downtown jail reported two cases in inmates. Eleven detentions employees had tested positive. A week prior, Spokane County Detention Services had confirmed nine cases in inmates.

“We’ve really got our focus set right now on our Geiger facility,” Mike Sparber said at a Friday news conference. “We have a strategy for downtown, but we’re just not seeing what we’re seeing at Geiger.”

Geiger had 138 inmates as of Friday and capacity for 360. Of the two buildings, A and B, A is housing all COVID-positive inmates and has room for more than 130.

All nonpositive inmates in Geiger’s B building are being tested twice weekly as of last week, and all staff are tested weekly, said Betsy Bertelson an epidemiologist with the Spokane Regional Health District.

In the jail, all new inmates coming in are isolated from the rest of the population for 14 days before being integrated in, she said.

Sparber said a reduction in the jail and Geiger’s population is “a better question for the prosecutors and the courts.”

“The early releases, those folks getting out of jail are determined by the courts,” Sparber said.

Inmates working in Geiger’s kitchen have been tested and are making food from a modified menu to reduce the number of kitchen workers needed at a time, Sparber said.

While inmates at Airway Heights Corrections Center, the state prison about five miles from Geiger, are complaining of showers once per week or less often, Geiger allows showers at any time with an officer’s permission. Sparber said staff are asking inmates to stay in their rooms, but they can shower or use the restroom at any time.