More than a dozen current and former inmates are suing Multnomah County over its handling of COVID-19.
The inmates said they contracted the virus at the county’s Inverness jail because of deliberate indifference or negligence.
In federal court documents filed this week, the inmates argue the jail denied them proper testing and treatment. The county also knowingly put infected guards and inmates with those who were not, the lawsuit states.
“The reason for the outbreak is not a mystery,” the lawsuit filed in federal court Monday states. “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.”
Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, which staffs the jail, said in a statement it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, MCSO has worked side-by-side with Corrections Health and Public Health officials to keep adults in custody safe and healthy, and has constantly adapted its response and updated its COVID-19 policies based on the best medical information available at the time,” a spokesman for the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
According to the lawsuit, on Feb. 17, more than 37% of inmates at the county’s Inverness Jail tested positive for COVID-19.
“By contrast, as of February 19, 2021, Oregonians overall contracted COVID at a rate of 3.5%,” the lawsuit states.