BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Both Washington and Benton County jails are battling a COVID-19 outbreak.
Over the weekend, Benton County reported its first case and on Wednesday, June 17, Washington County reported 15 detainees have the virus.
It feels horrible. I know it’s happening in the big prisons, and it’s happening in the small jails.CYNTHIA CAMP, SON’S IN BENTON COUNTY JAIL
Cynthia Camp sits in fear as she waits for her son in the Benton County Detention Center to fill her in on what’s going on inside the jail walls.
“I’ve gone up there, and they’ve been giving us no other information,” Camp said. “It’s pretty sad [and] it’s scary.”
On Monday, June 15, both a staff member and an inmate tested positive for COVID-19, according to Lieutenant Shannon Jenkins with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.
It’s frightening. It’s really frightening.CYNTHIA CAMP, SON’S IN BENTON COUNTY JAIL
Camp said her son and other inmates at the jail have been messaging her, saying the Sheriff’s Office isn’t taking the right precautions to ensure inmates and staff are protected from the virus.
“It’s not okay, they aren’t being taken care of,” Camp said. “They don’t have any masks, they aren’t being tested.”
Lt. Jenkins said the Sheriff’s Office has been working directly with the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on a daily basis to make sure it’s doing all the required steps.
Yes, we are actually working with those facilities to proactively screen, not exactly what we’ve done with the long-term care facilities, but a similar approach.DR. NATE SMITH, SECRETARY OF HEALTH
KNWA/KFTA was unable to do an interview with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, but we did talk with Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder.
“To my knowledge, we’re following those guidelines and have been,” Sheriff Helder said. “We’ve been ahead of the curve for a long time trying to prevent this.”
Sheriff Helder said he hopes with the measures already in place at the facility, the virus won’t spread as bad as it has in federal and state prisons.
Camp hopes the same is true for Benton County.
“It could be any of us, we are humans, we have to have compassion for goodness sake,” she said.
As of June 17, Lt. Jenkins said there is no additional information being released at this time.
Stay with us as we continue to follow this story.