Six inmates, 13 employees are positive for COVID after surge testing

By , Daily Memphian Updated: June 12, 2020 6:42 PM CT | Published: June 12, 2020 1:16 PM CT

Six inmates and 13 employees of the Shelby County Correctional Center tested positive for COVID-19 during recently completed surge testing, county officials announced Friday, June 12.

MICAH continues multi-pronged push to help inmates during COVID-19 threat

The results of the June 8 testing, which came after a push from community leaders and clergy to test all inmates and employees at the facility, show that 0.8% of inmates tested positive, or six out of 700 inmates, while 10.8% of employees at the facility, or 13 out of 120, tested positive.

In addition to the inmates and regular employees of the facility at 1045 Mullins Station Road, the county tested contract employees.

The call for testing came last month from the community action group MICAH, Memphis Interfaith Coalition on Action and Hope. The organization leaders, during a video press conference, pushed for accelerated testing after concerns were expressed by the family members of inmates.

The results, released in a press statement Friday, show there are no inmates or employees in the hospital because of coronavirus. The county also said no inmates have recovered from the virus but 12 employees have recovered.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said the testing began June 1 or June 2 and was completed June 9.

He said the testing was voluntary among the 700 inmates who agreed to it, and the state helped conduct it. 

Harris also said two or three additional inmates and staff now want to be tested, but there is no plan to do another round of surge testing at the moment.

“At the end of the day, as I’ve said before, just because they are behind the wall, just because they may have ended up on the wrong side of the law in their past, these men and women that we have responsibility for deserve humanity and they deserve compassion,” Harris said. “They were sentenced to a term and we will do our part to make sure they serve their term, but they were not sentenced to COVID-19.”

He said the county put protections in place in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, and he thinks those measures helped reduce the spread of the virus. 

“It is a pretty rigorous process. We make sure all the inmates there have masks. We doubled the number of hygiene products they receive and make sure they have replacement masks available upon request,” Harris said. “We cut off visitation and require all staff have temperature checks daily.”

He added the county upgraded its insurance. The rate 2% to cover outbreak testing.

Editor’s Note: The Daily Memphian is making our coronavirus coverage accessible to all readers — no subscription needed. Our journalists continue to work around the clock to provide you with the extensive coverage you need; if you can subscribe, please do. 


Coronavirus testing Shelby County Correctional Center Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris MICAH
Yolanda Jones

Yolanda Jones

Yolanda Jones covers criminal justice issues and general assignment news for The Daily Memphian. She previously was a reporter at The Commercial Appeal.

Metro - Criminal Justice on demand

Sign up to receive Metro - Criminal Justice stories as they’re published.

Enter your e-mail address


Reading comments and joining the conversation are some of the many benefits of subscribing. Join the conversation by clicking the View Comments button below. Not a subscriber? Click here. 

Our commenting policy can be viewed here