ADH secretary says state will do “aggressive” contact tracing in Eureka Springs after paroled inmate tests positive for COVID-19


EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — An inmate paroled from the Cummins Unit in Lincoln County tested positive for COVID-19 in Eureka Springs after a test came back negative prior to release. Officials said there’s a plan to limit exposure after the parolee refused to abide by a quarantine directive.

Jad Perkins, 40, was released from the Cummins Unit on April 20, said Solomon Graves, a Dept. of Corrections spokesperson.

“He was granted a regular parole release in February 2020,” Graves said in an email. “This was not a release under the special Emergency Powers Act authorized in response to the COVID outbreak within the Division of Correction.”

After Perkins was released, he traveled to Eureka Springs, where the Dept. of Corrections said he violated parole and came into contact with people after contracting COVID-19. The state requested help from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.

“On the day of his arrest, we were contacted approximately one or two hours prior to Mr. Perkins being booked into our jail,” said Maj. Jerry Williams, chief deputy, in an email. “We were specifically asked, ‘if located, would we be willing to hold him for approximately 24 hours.'” We were happy to assist the state in holding Mr. Perkins while other arraignments could be made for permanent housing.”

Dr. Nate Smith, the Dept. of Health’s secretary, said the state’s keeping up with the situation and will respond accordingly to prevent an outbreak.

“We’re well aware of the situation, and yes, we will be doing aggressive contact tracing,” Smith said. “We’re taking that situation very seriously, and we’ll do our best to track down all the contacts of this individual.”

Smith said the situation is impossible to prevent 100% of the time, but the state will apply this lesson moving forward.

“This is a very unfortunate situation,” Smith said. “We will do our very best to contact those who’ve potentially been exposed and to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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