Inmates sue over county’s handling of COVID-19


PORTLAND, Ore. — More than a dozen current and former inmates have sued Multnomah County over its handling of COVID-19.

In federal court documents filed this week, the inmates allege they contracted the virus at the county’s Inverness Jail because they were denied proper testing and treatment, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

The complaint filed Monday in Portland also says the county knowingly put infected guards and inmates with those who were not infected, further spreading the disease.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, which staffs the jail, says in a statement it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

On Feb. 17, more than 37% of inmates tested positive for COVID-19, court papers say, while the general population of Oregon was contracting the virus at a rate of 3.5%.

“The reason for the outbreak is not a mystery,” the lawsuit says. “Inverness does not enforce use of PPE by its staff. Inverness corrections staff routinely do not wear masks and express statements disapproving of wearing masks. Not wearing masks placed plaintiffs at immediate risk of harm by spread of COVID-19.”

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