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Pott. County Public Safety Center takes coronavirus precautions for prisoners, staff

Kim Morava

SHAWNEE - Precautionary measures are in place at the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center in an effort to protect jailers and prisoners from the coronavirus.

Jail Director Breonna R. Thompson said precautions are in place for the jail’s 290 inmates and 53 employees, but protocols also are in place when new prisoners are brought to the facility, such as taking their temperature, to reduce the chance of coronavirus entering the facility at U.S. 177 and Acme Road in Shawnee.

If an incoming inmate has a temperature, Thompson said they are masked and nursing staff is called in to determine what action to take. Daily, all prisoners inside the facility also are having their temperatures checked as well, she said.

“Once a day, we take the temperature of every inmate in the facility...we’ve been doing that for two weeks now, '' Thompson said.

If anyone has a temperature, they are being screened for any type of illness, she said, and if anyone has symptoms of any kind, they will be quarantined.

Through the proactive efforts, to date she said they’ve had no flu outbreaks and no coronavirus concerns. Thompson said she does have personal protective equipment ready, if needed during this coronavirus situation.

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“We are prepared,” she said, and have supplies, just in case.

More than a month ago, while watching events unfold overseas, Thompson tried to order medical supplies, such as masks, for the jail, but none of the medical vendors had them and that raised some red flags for her, she said. Through research, she said she found work-wear type masks, gloves and other items that were CDC approved and ordered those.

Should something occur at the jail, Thompson said she and her employees are ready to respond to the situation. The coronavirus concern hasn’t impacted other operations at the jail, such as daily video court.

New prisoners who need to go before a judge for an initial appearance bond are still doing so with the video court system, she said, which hasn’t been impacted by the closure of the Pottawatomie County courthouse.

Visitation issues between prisoners and family members haven’t been a concern during this time of social distancing as the facility went to a virtual-only inmate visitation system back in December.

That video system allows inmates to set up a video chat with family members who have cell phones, and those family members can be in their homes or anywhere during the visit rather than going to the facility.

For more information, go to www.pcpsct.org.

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