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Ashe County Sheriff B. Phil Howell said that the Ashe County Detention Facility may be on the verge of having its first COVID-19 outbreak.

“This morning (June 9) we received news of two inmates who were housed in the Ashe County Detention Facility for Watauga County have tested positive for the corona virus after spending time inside our facility,” Howell said in a statement. “AppHealthCare notified the sheriff’s office after the two inmates were returned to the Watauga Detention Facility and tested positive for COVID-19 virus. We are following all recommended procedures by AppHealthCare to get a full assessment of the situation.

“While our primary functions are for the equal care of our staff and inmates who work and reside here 24 hours a day, we want to assure everyone that we are taking every precaution to keep all who are involved safe and the potential of spread contained.”

“We are extremely fortunate to have a committed, compassionate staff who work as a team for Ashe County. We have been extremely blessed up to this point that our protocols and hard work in protecting everyone to this point has worked,” the sheriff said.

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Tom Mayer is the executive editor of Mountain Times Publications, a group of five news newspapers, six websites and one monthly periodical in the High Country of North Carolina.

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