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Lawsuit Filed Against Public Health Over COVID Outbreak In Jail

Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County (PHDMC)
Jess Mador

Today a local nonprofit, Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton, and an inmate of the Montgomery County jail filed a lawsuit against the Dayton & Montgomery County Board of Health and Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper. The case asks the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court to order the local health department to take action to control the growing COVID outbreak at the jail. 

In the filing, attorneys from Advocates for Basic Legal Equality make the case that Public Health — Dayton & 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 has asked the jail to test everyone at the facility. But the jail has instead followed the recommendations from its medical provider, a company called NaphCare, and has not conducted mass testing. 

The case claims that Public Health 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 have tested positive for COVID-19. One staff member is currently in self-quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. 

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.”

While working at the station Leila Goldstein has covered the economic effects of grocery cooperatives, police reform efforts in Dayton and the local impact of the coronavirus pandemic on hiring trends, telehealth and public parks. She also reported Trafficked, a four part series on misinformation and human trafficking in Ohio.
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