The Rock County Jail is moving closer to having no active COVID-19 cases among its inmates, but the physical and mental effects of the disease persist for some.
Jail Capt. Kim Litsheim on Wednesday said the jail had one inmate who still was within the 10-day window from a positive test result, meaning he or she was considered an “active” case.
But Litsheim said the inmate will be done with isolation today, meaning the jail could reach zero active cases among its inmate population.
“I’ve been optimistic through this that we would make it to this point,” Litsheim said.
She was, however, expecting test results from 11 incoming inmates sent out Tuesday to come back either later Wednesday or early today.
Well over 100 inmates have recovered, meaning they are outside the 10-day window.
Quince D. Wright, 56, of Janesville, is one of the inmates who tested positive for COVID-19. But he also has battled asthma and a bacteria in his lungs called nocardia.
On Monday, he was able to see a pulmonologist, who Wright said was concerned about his condition in the jail because his asthma “remains uncontrolled.”
Wright said it was “extremely scary” to get a disease that so seriously attacks the respiratory system.
“I’m lucky to be alive,” he said Wednesday.
He said he is still having shortness of breath, fatigue and headaches.
So much about how COVID-19 affects people is still being figured out. For some who get the disease, the symptoms can linger for weeks and months. Experts gave them the moniker “long haulers.”
Wright said he tries to do breathing exercises to calm himself. But he’s worried about COVID-19 becoming a big problem in the jail again.
Wright spoke positively of Litsheim specifically, saying she goes “above and beyond” to help and is communicative with everyone. But he said she cannot be around all the time, and other staff members haven’t always been as caring or considerate of inmates.
Similar to what another inmate said in a previous interview, Wright said the cleaning procedures could and should be better within the jail, such as staff not being as consistent with bringing hand sanitizer.
He said for the most part, guards are handing out the sanitizer. But other times, inmates have to ask.
“That’s something we shouldn’t have to ask for,” he said.
If he’s able to complete the program he’s a part of in the jail, Wright said, he is hoping to be moved into federal custody or elsewhere around March so he can get better access to medical treatment.
“Everybody that I’m looking at in this room had tested positive for COVID,” he said over the phone Wednesday. “I think that it all could have been avoided.”