The Orleans Justice Center. (Michael Isaac Stein/The Lens)

The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office announced on Thursday that the city’s jail no longer has any inmates in custody who are positive for the coronavirus. That is down from about 13 last week, and more than 90 in May.

In a Thursday press release, officials including Sheriff Marlin Gusman and Compliance Director Darnley Hodge credited the jail’s aggressive testing and screening developed in partnership with Tulane University, along with a “strict protocol to segregate positive and potentially positive cases from other inmates.” 1,174 inmates have been tested for the virus over the past few months.

Early on in the COVID-19 crisis, the jail was only ordering tests for a handful of inmates. But in April, Hodge implemented a mass testing plan, something he told The Lens in an interview that he was initially advised against. Prior to Hodge’s decision, only 38 inmates had been tested, 18 of whom had come back positive.

Inmate cases spiked into the dozens that month, eventually growing to 94 by May, according to the Thursday press release.

Cases among jail staff are also down significantly from their height last month. Thirteen Sheriff’s Office employees were positive as of Thursday. They are isolating at home. Three employees have died from COVID-19 since the crisis began in the spring.

Charles Maldonado

Charles Maldonado is the editor of The Lens. He previously worked as The Lens' government accountability reporter, covering local politics and criminal justice. Prior to joining The Lens, he worked for...