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Montgomery County Jail Inmate Sues Health Department Over COVID-19 Outbreak

Montgomery County Jail
Montgomery County Sheriff's Department
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Montgomery County Jail

A Dayton nonprofit and an inmate of the Montgomery County jail have filed a lawsuit against the local health department seeking action against the jail's growing COVID-19 outbreak.

The case was filed by Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton in the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, and targets the Dayton & Montgomery County Board of Health and health commissioner Jeff Cooper.

In the filing, attorneys from Advocates For Basic Legal Equality make the case that Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County has a legal duty to study the prevalence of COVID-19 and control its spread in the jail. 

According to email records, the health department asked the jail to test everyone at the facility. But the jail instead followed recommendations from its medical provider, a company called NaphCare, and has not conducted mass testing. 

The case claims that the health department has “inexcusably failed to comply with its clear statutory duty despite knowing that cases of COVID-19 are spreading at the Jail.”

A spokesperson from Public Health said the department could not comment on pending litigation.

To date, the jail has had 37 inmates and eight staff members test positive for COVID-19, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office. The jail currently has nine inmates in custody who tested positive for COVID-19. One staff member is currently in self-quarantine after testing positive.

A spokesperson from the sheriff’s office said that to date 31 inmates have tested negative for COVID-19, and that “it is important to note that our facility has a large transient population with high turnover among those entering and exiting daily.”