Flathead County Detention Center Reports First Case of COVID-19

Male inmate tested positive this week; he was placed in isolation before joining general population

By Andy Viano
Flathead County Justice Center. Beacon File Photo

A male inmate at the Flathead County Detention Center has tested positive for COVID-19, the first confirmed case in the county lockup.

Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino said the inmate was arrested in the last week and was sent for medical evaluation, at which point he was tested for the coronavirus. That test came back positive. The inmate at no point entered the general prisoner population, Heino said, and he had limited interaction with jail staff. He remains incarcerated in isolation.

Inmates at the jail are not required to wear masks but are masked when they are moved, whether to court, doctor’s appointments or other transfers. Jail staff do wear masks while on duty. 

Since the start of the pandemic, the jail has been keeping newly arrested prisoners grouped together. When suspects are arrested they are kept together with other new arrivals for several days to contain any potential exposure to COVID-19. Once jail staff is satisfied the inmates are healthy, they are integrated into the general population.

In a press release announcing the confirmed case, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office said it is working closely with the Flathead City-County Health Department to take “the appropriate precautions to keep staff, inmates and the community safe.”

Visitation remains open at the facility. All visits are restricted to two visitors per inmate.

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