(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Prisons and correctional facilities have been a COVID-19 hotspot around the country, but not for the Buchanan County jail.
Buchanan County has managed to keep their jail COVID-19 free, all except for one arrestee passing through.
“We had one positive case that came in, but that was in and out. We haven’t had any positive cases contained in the facility. That was one of the Triumph folks that came in and was released,” said Sheriff Bill Puett, Buchanan County.
Sheriff Puett said they're keeping the inmates and staff safe, preventing any outbreaks, by enforcing safety procedures.
“As soon as an arrestee or an inmate comes through the door, they’re screened by the nurse. Their temperatures are taken. If there’s an indication there might be a COVID issue, they would be isolated in a single cell away from everyone else and the process would start in getting them tested,” said Puett.
Besides screening the incoming arrestees, isolating those possibly infected and administering coronavirus tests, they're also providing inmates with necessary products to disinfect the facility.
“We also have inmates that are going in and doing deep cleaning of the common areas- railings, tables, high touch surfaces, door handles. We make sure we’re using a correctional grade disinfectant to get that accomplished and we do that every night,” said Puett.
To reinforce the county's efforts in keeping inmates safe, they're using part of the federal coronavirus relief fund (the CARES act funding), to prepare for possible cases.
“They’re allowing us to use half a million dollars to build five new jail cells that are going to be segregated jail cells,” said Ron Hook, Buchanan County's Western District Commissioner.
Puett said, “The cells are individual cells and they have negative and positive pressure which allows for medical isolations as well as isolation for other reasons. It’s a good thing to have in place that allows us to keep the inmate population safe and healthy and staff safe and healthy in a very close environment.”
The sheriff said the jail's condition and near zero cases within the facility, are all thanks to staff.
“We’ve been very, very fortunate to not have any cases in the facility. The staff has been extremely focused and doing a great job in working and making sure the inmates are taken care of,” said Puett.
The five added cells are in the process of being built by local contracting company, Lawhon Construction. Projected to be completed by the end of October.