Flu Epidemic at Jail Just a Rumor, County Says -- While Banning Face Masks to Avoid Panic

Categories: Rumor Mill

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A rumored flu epidemic centered on the Maricopa County Jail is false, officials say, and a move to prohibit jail visitors from wearing face masks is merely to avoid possible panic.

Calls were flooding in all day on Thursday about the rumor, which was apparently spread by some defense lawyers in emails, says Cari Gerchick, spokeswoman for the county and its Correctional Health Services department, which oversees jail health issues.

"There is no outbreak at the jail," she says.

See also:
- News of Mexicans With Chicken Pox Overblown by Sheriff's Office

True, there is a bad strain of the flu going around that some lawyers came down with, Gerchick says. But it didn't come from the jail, where no unusual pattern of contagions has been noticed, she says. Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, looked into the rumor and deemed it false, she says.

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Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.
"There is a nasty strain of flu floating around in downtown Phoenix," says a Facebook post that appears to be from a local law firm. "Three criminal defense attorneys have been hospitalized. Two are critically ill and in comas."

The post goes on to link the illness to sick inmates at the jail. Then it mentions how "lawyers have been prohibited from wearing flu masks while visiting clients at the jails..."

That part is correct, Gerchick acknowledges. The Sheriff's Office decided to ban the wearing of face masks because "there is no medical need or benefit from it, and it could cause a panic," she says.

The post claims that lawyers are staying away from the jail until the situation is resolved, and that an investigation was launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gerchick says the investigation is essentially already complete -- and there's nothing out-of-the-ordinary going on.

This episode is reminiscent of an alleged outbreak of chicken pox at the jail in 2010. Then, it was Sheriff Joe Arpaio spreading the rumor.

This time, Gerchick says, it's the lawyers who have their facts wrong.

Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.
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18 comments
vagabond545454
vagabond545454

Flu is airborne illness, cheap painters mask seems a cheap alternative to expensive medical treatment for those who get infected by the sick coughing on them or near them!

vagabond545454
vagabond545454

Now if one death occurs due to this inept, stupidity on Arpaio aka Marquis De Sade devotee, the tax payers of Maricopa county will be paying on their higher property taxes! Glad I am not a Maricopa county resident, sorry for the democrats who seem unable to muster the independent votes to boot him out, but maybe in time! If he costs the tax payers enough it might one day wake them up!

Chuck Graf
Chuck Graf

They are worried about a panic? That's Joe and his PR machine at its finest. People's health should trump that asshole's ego!

JJ Johnson
JJ Johnson

Huh. One of my attorney friends just got out of the hospital, and two others are still in ICU with this flu.

erik
erik

"...there is no medical need or benefit from it."  Really?  

erik
erik

"...there is no medical need or benefit from it."  Really?  I guess only if you want to avoid getting ill, "outbreak" or not.  

Fwarrior
Fwarrior

Which part of the story do the lawyers have wrong?  The three defense lawyers hospitalized this week, with one in a medically induced coma?  Nothing to see here, folks. . . move along. . . 

arizonacole
arizonacole

Interesting. I am a defense attorney. Two weeks ago I visited six clients at Lower Buckeye Jail. Five of them said they were sick. The next day I was nearly unable to even get out of bed for three straight days. I still haven't really shaken it. Of course, I'm sure the government would never mislead anyone about something like this. I mean, it's not like there's any liability issues to provide motives for downplaying a problem.

TommyCollins
TommyCollins topcommenter

No masks? That just doesn't make sense. I see folks from Asia all the time flying to the U.S. wearing masks simply because they are told Americans have such bad germs... I guess...


Is this yet another subliminal tactic to 'discourage' lawyers from visiting their clients? When is MCSO going to grow up and start doing business professionally?


Only when the cancer at the top is eradicated.


The old man is mentally ill and needs to go away.

Marty Iamnotadude Martinez
Marty Iamnotadude Martinez

yeah ok what about the inmate at durango that caught the swineflu there last week and they had him there with the other inmates but in a white hazmat suit..

DNichols
DNichols

I think the Health Dept. should check the Head Pot Belly at the M.C.S.O., Joe could be the carrier/host.

donnied1
donnied1

Wow! I believe it.... Lawyer flu. Cool.

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

@DNichols  

Not necessary, even the Flu virus won't go near Arpaio.......can't get past the smell.

TommyCollins
TommyCollins topcommenter

@shadeaux14

Shad, you may recall that the elderly elected official has 'touch of the flu' pretty much every time he is forced to 'test a lie' in a public trial or hearing. It must be that very flu that also causes selective loss of memory, "I can't recall".


The old man hasn't met a lie he doesn't like and won't use at some point.

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@TommyCollins  maybe Joe is what brought the flu in there Tommy? was he testifying on anything recently? if he was, then thats where the flu came in from

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