Gallatin County Detention Center

The Gallatin County Detention Center is shown in this 2017 Chronicle file photo. 

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Two inmates at the Gallatin County jail tested positive for the coronavirus within the past month and have been isolated from other inmates.

Sheriff Brian Gootkin said each inmate was put in a cell that has its own ventilation system and have been kept there since learning they were infected with COVID-19. He said jail officials are working closely with the health department on protocols to properly hold the inmates.

Gootkin said this isn’t the first time the sickness was found inside the jail “so there’s nothing new here.” He said there are upwards of 150 inmates housed at the jail and that some have illnesses like heart disease, tuberculosis and hepatitis.

“This is just another illness in our facility that we have to deal with that we’re prepared for,” Gootkin said.

One inmate was placed in the cell about three weeks ago after jailers learned that person contracted the virus, according to jail commander Jim Anderson. The other inmate, he said, was placed in a separate cell, also with its own ventilation system, about a week ago.

Gootkin said the jail has implemented a policy that detention center officers are required to wear face masks in the designated area where the infected inmates are being held. In other parts of the jail, he said, wearing a face mask is up to the officer.

Gootkin said one detention center officer contracted the virus about a month ago and was sent home to quarantine. He said the officer would be back to work next week.

In April, the jail reported an inmate had contracted the disease and was placed in one of the cells with its own vents. The inmate was booked on a Saturday and released the following Monday because of the illness.

Gootkin said the two inmates are isolated from the rest of the population. They are brought food and are being treated.

“They just have to stay put; they can’t move around like the rest of the people,” Gootkin said.

The cases inside the jail come as Gallatin County reported three new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday. There have been an accumulative total of 1,015, according to the Gallatin City-County Health Department.

The county’s rolling seven-day average has decreased to a little less than six people infected daily since the weekly average peaked in mid-July, with around 27 new cases a day over a week. The day the seven-day average peaked, the county reported it had conducted 239 tests.

On Monday, the county reported testing 85 people.

However, health officials have cautioned that new cases don’t always correspond with how many tests were performed because of varying returns on test results.

As of Wednesday, there were 30 active cases in the county and no one was hospitalized because of the disease. Three people in Gallatin County have died because of complications from the virus.

Of the 5,956 virus cases in Montana, 1,515 cases were active and 102 people had been hospitalized because of the disease. There have been 84 reported deaths in the state because of complications from coronavirus.

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Freddy Monares can be reached at or at 406-582-2630.