Bozeman Inmate Tests Positive For COVID-19

Apr 8, 2020

An inmate at the Gallatin County Detention Center in Bozeman tested positive for COVID-19 on Apr. 4. He has been released in coordination with the local health department.

In a court filing Tuesday in response to a lawsuit alleging a lack of safety for inmates amid the pandemic, Attorney General Tim Fox said the Gallatin County Detention Center had its first confirmed COVID-19 case.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin says the person did not show symptoms of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus when he was brought in and that detention staff were notified later that day that he had been exposed to the virus.

“The detention center is clean. It’s sanitized. It’s safe. Our inmates are healthy and safe. But you can have all the precautions in the world just like you can out in the public and there’s still a chance for it to happen," Gootkin says.

Gootkin says the detainee was transferred to one of two cells with its own ventilation system and officers followed Gallatin County Public Health’s protocols for personal protective equipment . He says results for the detainee’s COVID-19 test came back positive Saturday.

Gootkin declined to answer questions about when the person arrived at the detention center or when he was released.

He says currently the detention center has around 100 inmates and 45 detention officers. Recent court filings show the Gallatin County Detention Center reduced its jail population nearly one third.

ACLU of Montana brought the lawsuit on behalf of disability rights groups. They argue the state isn’t doing enough to mitigate mortal harm to incarcerated people during the pandemic.