Based on coronavirus directives handed down by federal, state and local authorities, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced Friday it has implemented protocols designed to protect the health and safety of the public, personnel and those in custody at jail facilities.
“The Orange County community is facing an unprecedented challenge, and the sheriff’s department has worked effectively and expediently in our response across divisions,” said Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Don Barnes.
“The custody setting presents unique and complex dynamics that we proactively are addressing to protect those in our custody and who work in our facilities,” Barnes said. “We also are making accommodations to preserve aspects proven to be important for rehabilitation.”
To date, no inmates have been diagnosed with COVID-19, Barnes said.
Ten inmates with flu-like symptoms are in isolation and have been tested for coronavirus, but officials are awaiting results, said Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman for the department.
The following protocols have been introduced:
— Enhanced screening for jail intake in partnership with the Orange County Healthcare Agency;
— temperature screening for every person who enters jail facilities, including inmates, sheriff’s personnel and outside agencies booking an inmate;
— if an inmate shows flu-like symptoms, the inmate will be rehoused and isolated from the general population; the Health Care Agency’s Correctional Health Services staff will monitor the inmate and will determine if a COVID-19 test is necessary; once the inmate is not symptomatic, they will be cleared for rehousing;
— ensure all inmates are receiving adequate cleaning materials for housing areas and soap for personal hygiene;
— temporarily suspended visitation, with the exception of attorney, bail bonds and law enforcement visits;
— temporarily suspended programming conducted by outside volunteers and contractors; the sheriff’s department currently is looking into ways to enhance programming, including religious services, while following the directives of healthcare experts; programs administered by sheriff’s department personnel are ongoing;
— all contractor access has been suspended, with the exception of specific projects vital to addressing the COVID-19 issue;
— each inmate will receive two, free five-minute calls per week;
— inmates unable to purchase stationary supplies will be provided pre-stamped envelopes, paper and pencils;
For the latest updates on COVID-19 in Orange County and additional health and safety information, visit ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus.
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