WABASH VALLEY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Currently, three jails in the Wabash Valley are reporting there are no positive cases of COVID-19 among inmates or staff.
In Greene County, the jail was updated a year and a half ago, which has made a difference during the pandemic.
One of the things Green County’s chief deputy sheriff George Dallaire said he credits in preventing an outbreak is a new airflow.
This airflow is called a negative airflow. It keeps the air from going in or out of the rooms and spreading any contagious illness.
“We deal with the protocols every day,” Dallaire said. “Everybody’s temperature is taken. Masks are worn. The food prep, we no longer allow inmates to serve food.”
Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse said after more than 100 inmates tested positive for COVID-19 in December, but there is currently one inmate with the virus. Deputies recently arrested a female who was positive. According to Plasse, she is in isolation until the virus runs its course.
He credits the slowing of COVID-19 to a quick separation of the those with and without coronavirus.
“The positive inmates, we have segregated them from the negative inmates to prevent the spread and we put them on lock down for 14 days based on Indiana State’s Department of Health’s guidelines,” Plasse said.
Plasse is hopeful the new Vigo County jail that is under construction, and should be completed by March 2022, should prevent the spread of illnesses by having more space and an improved airflow.
“It’s a new system where you can isolate different areas,” Plasse said. “So, everything in here kind of spreads everywhere. There’s no way to isolate it.”
Sullivan County is also preparing to build a new jail, and Sheriff Clark Cottom said the larger space will help them prepare for COVID-19 and other contagious illnesses.
“As soon as this facility opens up, it’ll literally be able to handle such things as a pandemic,” Cottom said. “We’ve designed it with that in mind. With isolation in mind.”
Cottom noted the jail has been very blessed to not have any outbreaks of COVID among inmates or staff members.
“Never did I ever think that I would be managing a facility in a worldwide pandemic,” Cottom said. “It has literally defined my second term as sheriff.”
While Sullivan and Vigo Counties are building new jails, Knox County is currently renovating existing space. They are turning a recreational room into a quarantine area.
Sheriff Doug Vantlin said it will include a bathroom, two showers and beds. He hopes it will be ready to use in a month or two.
“We’re short on space the way it is, but if we can get this built to where we can get quarantined inmates in there, we can also utilize it as a recovery area,” Vantlin said.
In each each jail, inmates are quarantined when they are brought into the jail and inmates are tested for the virus if they show symptoms.