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Summit County Jail Preparing Coronavirus Quarantine Area

The Summit County Jail is making preparations in the event of a coronavirus outbreak – but does not currently have anywhere to safely house infected or potentially infected inmates.

One inmate was suspected of having the coronavirus and was sent to a local hospital, where a doctor declined a test after and examination, according to Bill Holland at the Summit County Sheriff’s Department, which is responsible for the jail. The inmate was sent back to the jail.

Staff are preparing part of the jail for quarantine, Holland said. The jail had 570 inmates as of Friday morning, 220 below capacity.

“When you talk about a correctional facility, when you are making these types of preparations and taking these precautions, it can get a little complicated,” Holland said.

Earlier this week, the ACLU of Ohio started a hotline to take complaints about coronavirus preparations inside Ohio’s prisons and jails. The focus, according to ACLU of Ohio chief lobbyist Gary Daniels, was on Ohio’s jails.

“Jails are decentralized in a way that the Department of Corrections is not,” Daniels said. “So what you have is dozens and dozens and dozens of jails, municipal and county, around the state of Ohio without any kind of centralized authority that can issue and talk about best practices, issue mandates and do things of that sort.”

Summit County law enforcement officials and courts brought down the jail population by prioritizing hearings and suspending some transfers from municipalities to the county, Holland said.

All inmates are being screened at intake by staff nurses. The jail is also preparing to screen all staff and visitors.

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