Pandemic Spreads From Church To Chemung County Jail

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Updated: 9/22/20 – 11:27 A.M.

CORNING, NY (WSKG) – The Chemung County Jail has seen its first cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. They have been linked to a corrections officer, who is a member of the Lighthouse Baptist Church in Horseheads.*

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

As a result, the Chemung County Health Department (CCHD), with the assistance of the New York State Department of Health, conducted a mass testing at the jail. A total of nine cases have been confirmed positive with the virus; four corrections officers and five inmates.

“Throughout the county, they’ve come back to the church as well. So it originated there,” said Bill Schrom, Chemung County Sheriff. “Now we’re starting to see that some of these other cases, that are popping up positive, are being traced back to the church.”

There are 70 staff members and 88 inmates within the jail. Three inmates declined testing. They are isolated, just as the five inmates who tested positive.

Schrom said staff members must use proper personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, gloves and hand sanitizer during their shifts.  He cannot say for sure how the virus was transmitted.

“I think when we get complacent in society after a period of time, we, you know, forget about the value of the little things that we need to do, like wearing a mask out in public and, you know, unfortunately, this is the result of that,” explained Schrom. “But we’re very confident we’ll get through it and hopefully won’t have any other issues.”

All inmate court dates have been rescheduled for Sept. 28.

There is one death and more than 40 identified COVID-19 cases across multiple counties, including Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben, that are connected to the Lighthouse Baptist Church.

*This story has been edited from its original version to clarify the number of cases linked to the Lighthouse Baptist Church