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Douglas County Jail battles COVID-19 spread

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 6:32 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The coronavirus pandemic is moving through the Douglas County Jail impacting both staff and inmates. The latest numbers released by the corrections department shows that nearly 100 people have been infected since the pandemic began.

"They're scared to death," said Attorney James Martin Davis. COVID-19 inside the walls of the Douglas County Jail raises concern for the health and safety of everyone inside. With 500 employees and nearly 1,200 inmates in the 235,000 square foot space, controlling the spread is a monumental task. Attorney James Martin Davis has ten clients inside the jail.

"They've got to get that COVID virus under control in the jail…I mean that's a major health hazard," said Davis. According to the latest numbers released from the corrections department, 46 employees, two contractors, and 59 inmates tested positive for the virus. Knowing this day would come, Director Mike Myers had the head of the state's bio-containment unit inspect the jail in late March.

He knew trouble was just around the corner.

“When we are going to be dealing with this…we know that we have a role to play and we have to step up.”

That time has come.

6 News spoke with Deputy Director Amber Redmond.

“We’ve encouraged our staff to maintain distance as much as possible and we are just today submitting some information for the population educating them on the importance of social distancing and good hand hygiene. Staff and inmates are wearing masks,” said Redmond. “We’ve increased the amount of personal protective equipment required and we’ve often taken measures to restrict the movement of incarcerated individuals.”

“If they’re presenting with COVID symptoms they’re immediately quarantined.”

Richmond says the plan to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the jail is a constant battle and one that will be fought for quite some time.

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