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County jails taking extra precautions with the threat of COVID-19 looming

Several county jails across the state have undergone precautionary lock down due to COVID-19.

MIDLAND, Texas — Midland County jail is being extra cautious with COVID-19 going around right now. In order to prevent the spread of the virus throughout the jail, it is being cleaned around the clock.

"We have eight-hour shifts here so every single shift is doing cleaning, and they don’t just have to clean one time during the shift, it can be multiple times: before they eat, after they eat, and anytime," Captain of Detention Center at Midland County said.

Meanwhile, Ector County is making sure that they screen every person who happens to enter the facility.

"We have had to turn away a few inmates. We’ve had some inmates come in with COVID-19 symptoms none of which have been confirmed to have COVID-19 at this time," Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis said.

But what happens if someone in either of the jails were to contract the virus? These jails do have measures in place to mitigate the spread of the virus.

"We do have isolation cells. Some of the cells are zero pressure cells if you will, and what that means is the air in the cell itself is exhausted through the roof and not into the facility," Griffis said.

As for people who are being sent to jail while also showing COVID-19 symptoms? They're still more than likely going to end up in jail. They just need to be evaluated by a medical professional first.

"99 percent of the time we’re going to take them after they get checked out. We just have to have a doctor's clearance and get instructions from the physician from the emergency room, and if need be, we can isolate that individual here in the facility and then monitor them," Griffis said.

Despite all that, the staff's health, as well as the inmates', remains the top priority.

"All of the officers and staff, we are all on high alert, and we are looking to see if anybody is showing any symptoms signs. And we have notified all inmates that if they are feeling sick or anything like that to please notify us," Hilliard said.

Neither Midland County nor Ector County jails have a confirmed case of COVID-19 at this time, but Ector County does have a few inmates currently isolated because they are showing COVID-like symptoms.

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