An inmate at the Santa Fe County jail who tested positive for the novel coronavirus earlier this month recently tested negative, county officials said.

County spokeswoman Carmelina Hart said Monday the man is no longer being held in quarantine and is back in the jail's general population.

The man was first tested March 28, and his results came back negative. He was tested again April 7, after he complained of feeling ill, and received a positive result April 12. He was placed in an individual quarantine cell.

The 33 inmates he had been housed with also were tested for the virus, along with several employees who had interacted with the inmate. Hart said all those tests came back negative.

The state Department of Health has tested 81 inmates and 18 employees at the jail, Hart said. Five results were pending Monday. All other test results have been negative, she said.

David Morgan, a spokesman for the state Department of Health, said he couldn't comment on how common it was to receive a false positive for the coronavirus.

"However, there are false positives and false negatives with any test, including COVID-19 tests," he said.

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