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8 Wayne Co. Sheriff staffers test positive for COVID-19, cut back on certain arrests

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Eight staff members at the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department tested positive for the new coronavirus. At least seven of those employees have been in contact with other employees and inmates at the county jail.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Pageant Atterberry says any inmate who shows symptoms of coronavirus infection is separated from the general population and sent to jail medical facilities. If needed, an inmate would be transported for treatment. So far, only one inmate has been examined and found not to be infected.

“Right now, we're just following everything CDC says (about) this virus, continuously washing hands and keeping sanitized. We've been having our trustee inmates wipe down surfaces very frequently, every day with bleach. We do have masks that have been distributed to all of our staff and employees,” Atterberry said.

At this point, the Wayne County Sheriff’s employees have enough masks and more are ordered.

The Wayne County Sheriff’s Deputies have cut back on the number of people they are arresting because of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“Our arrest has been limited. We're only focusing on violent and threatening arrests and those people are being scanned when they enter,” Atterberry said.

People who are brought to the jail are checked for coronavirus symptoms.

“We have thermometer scanners at our jails. So we're scanning people before they enter the jail. And if their temperature reads high, they are not allowed into the jail,” Atterberry explained.

Visitation to the jail was stopped the week of March 9th. Inmates are given access to limited online visitations for free each week.

Two nurses, a compliance officer, a shift officer, a master control officer, a registry officer, a staff member in internal affairs and a staffer in courts within the Sheriff’s Department have been sent to seek medical treatment and quarantine at home. Those in the Department who test positive will be paid during the 14 day quarantine.

In addition to those who tested positive for COVID-19, a number of other staff have called in sick. Still, Atterberry says the Department has enough staff to keep operations normal.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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