Douglas County Sheriff’s Office: Jail can accommodate quarantine, if needed

photo by: Mike Yoder/Journal-World File Photo

The Douglas County Jail is shown in this file photo from February 2015.

The Douglas County Jail is equipped to handle individuals who need medical quarantine, according to the sheriff’s office.

As gatherings of people are being canceled across the country amid fears of COVID-19, the Journal-World inquired Tuesday about what protocol is in place for screening inmates as they’re booked into the jail and what the jail does in the event that someone gets sick or needs quarantine.

Jenn Hethcoat, public information officer for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, said in an email Thursday that a medical evaluation, by 24-hour medical staff, is part of intake for every individual who is booked into the jail and that the jail’s original design can accommodate needs such as a medical quarantine.

“We are working in conjunction with state and county officials to be as prepared as possible when, and if, one of the inmates at the correctional facility is diagnosed with the virus,” Hethcoat wrote. “… Following recommendations from (the Kansas Department of Health and Environment) we are incorporating additional screenings that give special attention to symptoms of the coronavirus.”

She said that the jail would use its “specially designed accommodations” for anyone displaying symptoms of the coronavirus while the sheriff’s office works with county and state officials to have those individuals tested.

In addition, Hethcoat said the walk-in fingerprinting service at the downtown Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center was being suspended indefinitely.

“We understand that the public is concerned about how this situation is handled everywhere,” Hethcoat wrote. “The nature of this pandemic brings change every day; we have plans in place to handle individuals with coronavirus and we are ready to adapt as needed.”

Hethcoat also wrote that the sheriff’s office would “update the community on plans for the Law Enforcement Center, County Courthouse, and other county buildings as needed.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, the jail was housing 174 inmates, according to online records.

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