Gibson County Jail faces COVID-19 outbreak

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GIBSON COUNTY, Ind. (WEHT)– Another Tri-State jail is dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19. At least 45 Gibson County inmates tested positive for the virus Tuesday according to the Gibson County sheriff. The jail usually holds around 140 inmates. The wife of one of those prisoners says she’s been fearing the worst since this weekend.

“I could have lost my husband in that place,” said Tonya Fowler. Her husband is an inmate at the Gibson County Jail. She said he became sick Saturday. “And he told me he said, ‘It’s the COVID I know it is. I don’t feel right.'”

By Sunday his heart was racing so he went to see the nurse. That’s when he found out his blood pressure was elevated.

“I was freaking out. I was like, ‘That is high.’ You know and the heart rate was like 124 beats per minute and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ They should have taken him to a hospital.”

On Tuesday, Gibson County inmates were tested for COVID. The Gibson County sheriff said about 45 tests came back positive.

“This whole time he had COVID,” Fowler said her husband was one of those inmates who contracted the virus. “It doesn’t matter what they’ve [the inmates have] done. They’re human beings. Their lives matter too.”

Fowler hopes all inmates get the medical care they need, but she fears this outbreak won’t be the last. “My husband when he first got arrested, they did not quarantine him. They took him straight in and took him to a cell with another guy.”

Fowler’s husband was arrested in November and told her new inmates are still not quarantining.

“I don’t know what to do. I just know my husband needs help,” cried Fowler.

Gibson County Sheriff Tim Bottoms declined to do an on-camera interview. He answered a few of our questions, but then told our Eyewitness News crew he’s done talking.

Gibson County Prosecutor Michael Cochren said when filing cases, he has been mindful of the jail’s population.

“We are doing a lot more summons now than we used to which means the person is not arrested, they’re just told to come to court. That helps reduce the jail population,” explained Cochren. He said because of that, his office has delayed filing some criminal cases.

(This story was originally published on March 3, 2021)

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