Inmates at S.C. jail losing phone, visitation during COVID quarantine

"We are doing everything we can to proactively prevent inmate and employee exposure to the virus," Sheriff Anthony Dennis said


By Noah Feit
The State 
        
SUMTER, S.C. — Because of a recent spike in positive COVID-19 tests, the Sumter County Sheriff's Office Detention Center is undergoing a minimum 10-day quarantine, the Sumter County Sheriff's Office said Monday.

The quarantine is not because of an increase in inmates with the coronavirus, but due to an overall rise in positive cases in Sumter County, spokeswoman Sr. Deputy Adrienne Sarvis told The State.

"The purpose of the quarantine is to limit inmates' movement within the facility to reduce contact with each other," Sarvis said.

The quarantine at the jail — previously named the Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center — began on Dec. 31, Sheriff Anthony Dennis said in a news release. It will continue until at least next Monday.

"After the 10 days, we will reassess the situation to determine if we will return to regular operations, with normal COVID procedures in place," Dennis said in the release.

Information on the number of inmates being held at the jail, and the amount who have COVID-19, was not immediately available.

As a result of the quarantine, inmates will not be able to access the jail's phone and video communication, according to the release.

"It would be extremely difficult to properly sanitize the devices between frequent use," Dennis said.

Sarvis said visitation is also being put on hold, cutting inmates off from family and friends, among others, during the 10-day period.

Families can continue to add money to an inmate's canteen account through the online portal at sumtersheriff.org.

Attorneys are still able to visit clients at the jail, but by appointment only. That's the same requirement in place for vendors who supply the jail.

"We are doing everything we can to proactively prevent inmate and employee exposure to the virus as we continue to house new inmates," Dennis said.

That includes giving inmates COVID tests twice a week, according to the release.

Testing at the detention center is also available to officers, medical staff, and other employees, and the medical unit is open 24 hours a day, the sheriff's office said. Additionally, the detention center is sanitized three times each day using a sanitizing fogger device, according to the release.

Previous coronavirus precautions at the jail — checking temperatures, providing masks, regular sanitizing and quarantining new detainees — remain in place, the sheriff's office said.
  
(c)2022 The State (Columbia, S.C.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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