The CDC warning jails across the U.S. to be on the lookout for a COVID-19 outbreak. Vanderburgh County Jail staff are preparing for that reality.
Jails and detention centers have a high turnover. They are constantly bringing in new people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
“We can’t pick and choose the who comes into our facility. Often times people who come into our facility they may not follow the best hygiene or sanitation or even healthcare guidelines,” says Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding. The jail’s staff is reinforcing good hygiene and sanitation practices while also trying to keep enough supplies on hand, and policies in place aimed at keeping everyone healthy in this enclosed environment. “Because we want to protect our staff and we need to protect other inmates from new people coming into our facility.”
Although, it’s been an uphill battle trying to get a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“We’ve had a lot of trouble obtaining masks, glasses, and other types of PPE,” says Sheriff Wedding. Luckily, they were able to get some extra protective gear before anyone within the jail started showing COVID-19 symptoms. “We were fortunate yesterday that our EMA worked with Posey County EMA and we received several hundred surgical masks that have been approved.”
In efforts to reduce the germs brought into the detention center, some low-level offenders have been temporarily released from jail per local judges’ request.
“Our community corrections participants have been released with GPS tracking,” Sheriff Wedding explains. “They’re most at risk to obtain the virus and then spread it in the community because they are coming in and out daily.”
It’s unclear how long this will last.
“40 years in law enforcement and this is probably the most puzzling circumstance I’ve ever dealt with,” says Sheriff Wedding.