NewsCrime & Courts


Gallatin Co. Detention Center inmate tests positive for COVID-19, released

Inmate kept in quarantine before release
Posted at 7:01 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 16:12:26-04

BOZEMAN — Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin says an inmate inside the Gallatin County Detention Center tested positive for COVID-19.

According to Gootkin, when this man came into the detention center, he was not showing signs of COVID-19.

But upon testing, he was found to be positive and they worked quickly.

"Thanks to the foresight, the voters and the great design, we're prepared,” Gootkin says.

It began Saturday when Sheriff Gootkin says a man who violated his probation came into the Gallatin County Detention Center from the inmate re-entry program.

"He was not symptomatic during the entire stay, including intake,” Gootkin says.

No symptoms, but still the inmate was quarantined into a negative pressure cell.

"There was no showing,” Gootkin says. “We were actually notified by where he came from that they had a positive test over there."

"This is direct ventilation out [of the detention center] instead of going directly to the regular ventilation system,” Gootkin said in a demo video.

Through a video, Sheriff Gootkin took us inside the jail, demonstrating the two cells used to separate inmates from the others, from the ventilation to the nursing staff’s dress procedure.

He also demonstrated how inmates are also instructed to follow social distancing protocol.

Gootkin adds the inmate was released but only under health department observation.

"Our health people in the jail worked with the health department and made sure that person was going to quarantine and even notified where that person was going,” Gootkin says.

Gootkin says no other inmate is showing signs or has tested positive for the virus outside of this case.

"Since day one, we've been working side by side with the health department every single day and that's why we're not panicking because we know,” Gootkin says. “We've been educated and we know exactly what the newest information is, how to take care of that, how to prevent it so we're confident, as confident as can be and even with all of the precautions that we have, we still had a positive test so I try to tell people there's no way to eliminate it totally but we are doing everything in our power to make sure that these inmates are healthy and safe."

Sheriff Gootkin points out that the jail takes such protocols seriously all the time, COVID or not.

"I like to say that we are the lighthouse in the storm because we can't panic,” Gootkin says. “We have to make sure that we operate and that everyone's safe."

Gootkin adds it’s important to note that the inmate went through their probation and parole hearing as they normally would and stayed in the jail for around the typical 72 hours before he was released.

"Probation and parole did their hearing just like they would normally,” Gootkin says. “This happens all the time. If a person or a probationer violates their conditions, they are in here for 72 hours and that inmate was here for about that same time period."