An inmate at the Morris County Correctional Facility is being held in medical isolation at the facility after tests confirmed Tuesday, March 24, that he is positive for COVID-19.
The affected inmate was admitted to the facility in early March and was part of a specific group of inmates who, for existing medical or mental health reasons, started having their temperatures taken on a daily basis as of last week as a precaution against the coronavirus.
The inmate on Saturday presented with a slight temperature and was immediately put into medical isolation. A swab was submitted to a laboratory for COVID-19 testing and results received Tuesday showed he was positive for the virus.
For the immediate future, the inmate will be cared for in isolation in the facility’s 24-hour Medical Unit.
For the past two weeks, every new admission to the facility has received a COVID 19 medical screening that includes a series of questions about health, travel and potential contact with others who have contracted the coronavirus. Temperature checks of new admissions began a week ago.
The Morris County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the Correctional Facility through its Bureau of Corrections, has developed a three-part plan for Operational Readiness, Prevention and Management, in response to COVID-19 spread risks.
“The Morris County Correctional Facility is taking every precaution to guard against transmission of COVID-19, for the health and safety of Officers and staff and the inmates entrusted to its care. We are ahead of the curve on sanitation and safety protocols but correctional facilities, because of the populations they house, can be susceptible to health risks,” Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon said.
Before COVID-19 was declared a state and national emergency, the Morris County Correctional Facility instituted intensive disinfection policies of all common areas and housing units where the inmates live. The Correctional Facility also has its own Medical Director and a 24-hour Medical Unit.
The Correctional Facility beginning in early March has put rigorous measures in place to safeguard against possible transmission of the COVID-19 infection. They include:
- Suspension of visits between inmates and family members;
- Temperature checks of all Officers, Staff and Contractors entering the facility;
- An extensive cleaning schedule that enhances ordinary rigorous sanitation of the facility. It includes disinfection of all areas within all housing units every other day; daily disinfection of all generally-touched surfaces; daily disinfection and deep cleaning of the Medical Unit; availability of hand sanitizer to staff and permitted visitors.
- All new inmate admissions are screened in a facility vestibule prior to entering the building, and have a temperature check and medical screening.
- Continuing a protocol started on March 5, the healthcare provider conducting Nurse’s Screening for all new admission inmates will ask the same travel and symptom questions presented to lawyers and professional visitors. If an inmate responds yes to any question, the healthcare provider shall notify custody staff to place the inmate in a cell by him or herself and call the Facility Physician to determine the next steps.
The Morris County Correctional Facility has achieved six consecutive accreditations from the American Correctional Association (ACA) for jails by mastering standards on cleanliness, nutrition, security and quality of life.
The facility also is accredited by the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare (NCCHC) and is governed by the New Jersey Department of Corrections.