YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Mahoning County sheriff says there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county jail, but they are quarantining some inmates.
Sheriff Jerry Greene said anyone showing symptoms of the virus, as well as any new inmates entering the jail, will be quarantined.
“We have a couple of different pods — or housing units, that you would call them — that we’ve actually quarantined them and now we’ve created an additional, what we’ll call a reception pod or whatever,” he said. “If any new arrests come in within our facilities, they’re being treated as if they potentially have the virus and they’re being quarantined for 14 days.”
Greene said the staff is working to prevent any exposure to inmates in the county jail but supplies are limited.
“I’d certainly like to have a lot of additional masks for my officers that are around such large quantities of people within our correctional environment.”
Greene said they ordered 3,000 masks but it may be another eight to ten days before they receive them.
Jimmy Moore, an inmate, said there is a lot of concern inside the jail that they could be exposed to the virus.
“There is no six-foot rule here. We’re all together, you know? There is no separating. When we come out to eat, we’re all sitting like, inches away from each other.”
Moore said he can see one of the quarantined pods from his room and worries he’ll be exposed.
“The deputies communicate with one another, so the deputy working on T-Pod — which is quarantined — he comes out of there and comes through the classroom, and comes to talk to our deputy over here. So the inmates are concerned about that also.”
As a precaution, inmates are not getting recreation time for now and visiting has been suspended. Inmates are still able to come out of their cells.
Greene said the number of inmates in the jail is lower than usual, partly due to a reduction in crime but also due to a change in the intake process.
Those recently arrested for misdemeanors and nonviolent offenses are being asked to come to court, as opposed to being taken to the jail.
The goal is with fewer people coming in from the outside, those inside will be less at risk.
“One of the biggest things is making sure that we don’t get contamination from the outside, people coming in and doing work within the jails, potentially deputies bringing it into the jail and new arrests coming into the jail,” Greene said.
He said the jail does have medical staff working 24 hours a day.
However, Moore said, typically, it is difficult to be seen by medical personnel.
“You have to get the paper from the deputy, fill it out with your reason for writing it, what type of medical attention you think you need,” he said. “Maybe about three days later [the nurse] will come up, and she’ll call your name and talk to you face-to-face. Then maybe two more days later, you’ll start getting the medicine.”
But Greene said that is not true and anyone feeling sick or experiencing symptoms will be seen immediately.
“If it’s something like, ‘My foot is swollen,’ or a problem with their neck or something that’s unrelated, they will get seen the next day,” Greene said. “But if it’s something about their health, like feeling like they got the flu or any type of symptoms, it’s immediate.”