Walker Co. Jail using cotton balls to test inmates for COVID-19

Cotton ball COVID testing at Walker Co. Jail

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Walker County Jail is switching up methods to test their inmates and deputies for COVID-19.

Instead of a nasal swab, they're using cotton balls.

When deciding how to test over 300 inmates at the Walker County Jail, they thought about methods that would garner the least amount of resistance.

So instead of using a swab that would go all the way to the back of the nose or throat, the Sheriff's office decided on cotton balls.

You take a cotton ball about the size of a AAA battery.

You chew on it for a couple minutes, and then a certified tester will make sure it's moist enough.

The certified tester will then seal up the sample and send it to a lab to be analyzed for COVID-19.

And while this method is cheaper, it's also being considered as more accurate.

"If you chew something, saliva is going to develop. So you have a bigger chance of catching a virus when it's more saturated. And our testers are telling us that the way we're doing it with chewing on a swab is much more accurate. If you have the virus, it's much more likely to detect it than in a drier environment like the nasopharyngeal area," said Dr. Roger Childers, a registered nurse who directs health services at the Walker County Jail.

They had two inmates test positive.

One of them had already bonded out before they got the results back.

That other inmate is in seclusion and does not have symptoms.

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