COVID-19 has presented a series of difficult circumstances for jails in the area. Because inmates, staff members, and government officials continually come in and out of the jail, it’s much easier for the virus to spread in the close quarters and continual cross-contamination. 

At Eco Bear, we understand the difficulties COVID-19 poses for the jails. We would like to help you understand the risks involved, the precautions you can take, and the methods of disinfection necessary to keep the threat of the virus away.

What is COVID-19?

With all of the information out there about COVID-19, it helps to have all of the information in one place. While we all know it’s a virus that causes flu-like symptoms including a fever of 100.4 or higher, cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, sore muscles, and chills, what’s not as clear is how it spreads and what we can do to stop it:

  • COVID-19 spreads easily from person-to-person especially in distances closer than 6 feet.
  • COVID-19 spreads from surfaces to people, such as countertops, doorknobs, light switches, pens, etc.
  • Not everyone shows symptoms, but may carry the virus
  • Symptoms may show up between 2 and 14 days of close exposure (closer than 6 feet) for more than 10 minutes with an infected person

Screening Incoming Persons

Screening anyone new coming into the jail is essential. As a part of the intake process, consider:

  • Taking temperatures to find anyone with a fever of 100.4 or higher
  • Assessing respiratory health of anyone new to the jail
  • Discuss previous exposure to anyone with the infection within the last 14 days
  • Discuss any previous quarantine orders of the person due to symptoms or exposure
  • Anyone with symptoms should be given a surgical mask and kept isolated from others
  • Anyone dealing with the symptomatic person must have proper PPE
  • Anyone with symptoms should undergo COVID-19 testing and be continually monitored to ensure they don’t need more medical care
  • Anyone with symptoms should be kept away from others until test results are available

Screening Staff

Staff screening is also essential to ensure that they don’t pose a risk. This includes:

  • Requiring temperature checks before being allowed in the jail
  • Maintaining proper social distancing during the screening
  • Reporting any respiratory issues right away
  • Requiring staff members to self-assess every few hours to notice any new respiratory issues or fevers

Hygiene Practices

Ensure that all detainees and staff members are able to properly manage hygiene including:

  • Provide ample handwashing opportunities with soap and paper towels
  • Have touch-free trash receptacles
  • Prevent sharing of utensils, cups, drugs, drug paraphernalia, tattoos and tools used to create them

Social Distancing

Promote social distancing as much as possible. The CDC recommends everyone keep a 6-foot distance from one another. While this may be impossible in a jail setting, certain precautions can be taken including:

  • Keep detainees in the same housing unit and don’t intermingle housing units. Anyone that resides together should remain residing together to avoid cross-exposure.
  • Keep a social distance between ‘groups’ to avoid cross-exposure.
  • Keep people in line socially distanced.
  • Stagger groups that do activities together, such as eating, so that only groups of 10 or less are together at a time and encourage social distancing throughout the process.
  • Ensure that any symptomatic individuals wear a surgical mask to prevent exposure to non-symptomatic individuals
  • Keep chairs in any common areas, such as waiting rooms, intake, or eating areas to 10 or less and ensure that they are situated at least 6 feet apart
  • Situate all beds at least six feet apart and arrange detainees so that they are sleeping head to toe
  • Have easy access to washing stations in waiting rooms and in non-risk areas, include touchless hand sanitizer for easy handwashing
  • Keep all appointments to only those that are essential to prevent excessive exposure
  • Inmates should be screened for COVID-19 at each medical appointment

Isolation

Normally, infected persons should be isolated by themselves, but in a jail setting, this may not be possible. At the very least, consider:

  • Keeping detainees with their same housing group if they can be isolated away from the non-symptomatic persons while being monitored
  • Anyone with severe symptoms should be isolated in an area where constant medical monitoring is possible
  • Any detainees showing symptoms should wear a surgical mask to prevent spreading the virus

Any staff members with symptoms should be sent home immediately. Care should be taken to avoid exposure with anyone else by providing a surgical mask and isolating the employee immediately. The employee should be sent home for at least 14 days (10 days from the date symptoms first showed and 3 days after symptoms end).

Also, consider tracing contact with any infected person for as long as 2 days before symptoms showed. Anyone with prolonged contact with the infected person, which means close contact (closer than 6 feet) for more than 10 minutes should self-isolate for 14 days as it takes between 2 and 14 days to show symptoms. 

In times of extreme need due to employee shortage, exposed employees may be able to work if they wear a protective mask at all times to prevent spreading the virus, should they have it.

If an exposed person doesn’t exhibit symptoms after 14 days, he/she may return to work. If an exposed person does exhibit symptoms, his/her isolation period starts on the day of the first symptom and continues for 10 days. Once symptoms subside, an addition three days in isolation is necessary.

Disinfection

Frequent disinfection is crucial to stopping the spread of the virus. Frequently cleaning all common areas and commonly touched objects is crucial. This includes faucets, toilet handles, light switches, countertops, and door handles. 

Have plenty of staff members thoroughly trained in proper sanitation and disinfection methods using EPA-registered disinfectants, following the manufacturers’’ instructions to thoroughly disinfect the area.

At Eco Bear, we understand the stress COVID-19 puts on the jail system. Using proper precautions, regular monitoring, and proper disinfection services are crucial to the health and wellness of everyone involved. We are happy to help you understand the proper disinfection methods or to offer our services to disinfect contaminated or even just exposed areas to decrease the threat of spreading COVID-19 and to help everyone feel safe and secure throughout the area.