5 Cass County Jail staff, 6 inmates test positive for virus

Guard tests Sheriff Jahner
A North Dakota National Guard soldier administers a COVID-19 test to Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner during a testing event held at the county jail for staff and inmates on Tuesday, May 19. North Dakota National Guard / Special to The Forum
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FARGO — Six inmates and five employees of the Cass County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19.

At the jail’s request, the North Dakota National Guard and the Red River Valley COVID-19 Task Force tested 252 individuals, including 156 inmates, for coronavirus on Tuesday, May 19.

The staff and inmates who tested positive were asymptomatic, Sheriff Jesse Jahner said Thursday, May 21.

The sheriff's office has received all the test results. One was inclusive, Jahner said. Tests for Jahner and Capt. Andrew Frobig, the jail administrator, came back negative.



Jahner asked for the testing to establish a baseline of those who may have contracted the virus. The plan is to separate infected inmates from the general population. The jail also wants to shift inmates around so it can isolate incoming inmates who will be screened and monitored for symptoms before introducing them into the general population.

The jail implemented contingency plans after testing, to prevent the spread of the virus inside the facility, including placing inmates on lockdown so they cannot interact with others and possibly spread the virus, Jahner said.

Staff will continue to use personal protective equipment and the facility will be professionally cleaned, he said.

“Another targeted mass testing inside the facility will occur again in the near future to better identify those who are now healthy and to determine if we have any further virus spread,” Jahner said.

Several arrestees who were booked into the facility were screened and isolated before they tested positive. Inmates who tested positive will be monitored in case hospitalization is needed.


National Guard Staff Sgt. Dane Kruger and Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner are seen Tuesday, May 19. The Guard and the sheriff's office worked together to test all county jail inmates and staff for the coronavirus as a preventative measure. David Samson / The Forum

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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