Santa Rita jail taking precautions against infectious spread of COVID-19

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DUBLIN, Calif. (KRON) – The Santa Rita jail in Dublin has put in new procedures to keep out the coronavirus.

Sergeant Ray Kelly with the Alameda County Sheriff’s office says if the coronavirus took hold inside their jail it could be bad news for the inmate population.

“We’re dealing with a population of people that are most at risk,” Kelly said.

In the last few weeks the jail has instituted additional screenings for new arrivals.

“Talking to arrestees, taking people’s temperatures when or if we see they have flu like symptoms, going through a series of critical questions, taking into account all that information and then making a determination if we’re even going to accept that person into our jail.”

If turned away the arrestee would likely be sent to a local hospital for further testing. Authorities also have a plan to quarantine inmates if and when it does pop up inside the jail.

Kelly explains that officials put this place a few weeks ago when an inmate suffered from the flu.

“We had about 70 or so patients in custody that were showing signs and symptoms,” Kelly said.”We had three patients that tested positive with Influenza A. We had to put into place a series of quarantines and as a result of that we able to actually manage and now we’ve seen a drastic reduction in symptoms and patients that we’re dealing with.”

In addition. the Sheriff’s Department says they’ve reached out to other local law enforcement agencies to ask that they use discretion when arresting people with cold or flu like symptoms.

If it’s a non-violent misdemeanor, like a traffic violation, authorities advise officers to consider giving that person a citation or notice to appear at a later date in order to keep a virus from gaining a foothold inside the jail.

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