Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols speaks at a State House rally in Augusta in 2019 opposing former Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck’s nomination as the state’s public safety commissioner. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Four inmates from Penobscot County who had been boarded at the Franklin County jail were returned to Bangor on Friday as the Farmington jail dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak among staff.

Franklin County planned to curtail operations at its jail starting Monday due to the outbreak, Sheriff Scott Nichols said. Four jail employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

“The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, out of an abundance of caution, has decided to curtail full jail operations for a two-week period,” Nichols said. “All current jail population have been tested and remain safe.”

That jail population included four inmates from Penobscot County, who are among 26 inmates of the consistently overcrowded Bangor jail who were boarded at other jails around the state as of Friday.

Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton said Friday that his staff had discussed the outbreak with Franklin County officials.

“At this time, no Penobscot County boarded inmates have tested positive for COVID-19,” he said.

On Monday, inmates from Franklin County will move to a quarantine pod at the Somerset County Jail in East Madison, Nichols said.

Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster agreed to house the seven Franklin County inmates in a quarantine pod until Feb. 3, when the Farmington facility hopes to resume full operations, Nichols said.

“The jail will still be accepting arrestees who are a risk to public safety until they are seen by a judge,” the sheriff said.