Sheriff’s Office answers questions on COVID-19 spread in Greene County Jail

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Greene County Jail now has 83 out of 170 inmates testing positive for COVID-19 in the housing unit the jail has isolated to contain the spread of the virus.

According to Jason Winston, the public information officer for the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, 29 employees have tested positive out of the 102 tested. The Health Department recommended the entire housing unit was re-tested for the virus.

Winston answered several questions about what is being done to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Greene County Jail:

Which lab is processing your tests for inmates, and who is giving the physical nose swab to the inmates?

Answer: Jordan Valley Community Health Center, Cox Hospital, Mercy Hospital and Dynamic DNA. Nurses are administering the test.

What are your protocols for when a new inmate comes into the jail, either from the street or from another facility? Are they quarantined? Tested?

Answer: Upon entry into our facility, arrestees/inmates are screened for symptoms. If they are displaying symptoms, they are quarantined and tested.

Are you still able to send inmates to other counties to reduce overcrowding now that there is an outbreak in your facility? If so, which counties are still accepting inmates?

Answer: We have not moved any inmates to another facility. We have the ability to move inmates, if necessary, to other facilities that are accepting other inmates.

Are any inmates or staff hospitalized?

Answer: We have one employee in the hospital on unrelated medical issues, but has complications due to COVID-19. None of our inmate population are in the hospital.

What are you doing with inmates who test positive?

  1. I’ve heard they’ve been sent to solitary. Is that true?
  2. Do they still have their tablets and other privileges to reach out to family when they are in quarantine?
  3. What happens when someone gets critically ill?

Answer: If an inmate test positive, they are placed on quarantine. (1) No inmates are sent to “solitary” for testing positive. (2) It depends on which unit they are in. The inmates you spoke with, which have the majority of the cases, do have access to tablets. (3) Critically ill inmates are transported to the hospital.

When did you first become aware of the potential for an infection?

Answer: We were first made aware of potential infection of COVID-19 back in March of 2020.

I understand the virus originated in the trailer. Is that true?
Are you taking any precautions in that facility to make sure inmates distance themselves given that it’s an open dormitory-style?

Answer: Yes. (1) The inmates need to practice social distancing, however as in your video, they were huddled around the camera and removing their mask to speak with you. Not a good practice, but that is something that is beyond our control.

How often are inmates required to be masked, and how often are those face coverings changed out? What guidance are you using to inform that time frame of giving them new face coverings?

Answer: Inmates are required to be masked at all times. Masks are changed out twice a week due to supply.

To what extent are you working with the Health Department to conduct testing and form policy on your response? Are there any other agencies that have been assisting with a response?

Answer: We have been working with the Health Department and following their guidelines and recommendations.

How many pods are under quarantine right now and how many inmates are in those pods?

Answer: 1 housing unit is under quarantine with 78 inmates.

What measures are you taking to sanitize the facility?

Answer: Cleaning multiple times daily.

What other measures are being taken to ensure the virus does not spread inside the facility that I did not specifically ask about?

Answer: The virus has been contained to one housing unit all positive cases are being housed there. The inmates housed in the remaining housing units have been isolated to their cell to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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