Coronavirus: No cases reported at Clark County Jail seven months into pandemic

Deputy Shaun Lisle cleans a sanitizes a holding cell at the Clark County Jail Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Deputy Shaun Lisle cleans a sanitizes a holding cell at the Clark County Jail Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The Clark County Jail has reported no COVID-19 cases since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic in March.

There have been no cases of COVID-19 associated with the Clark County Jail, according to the Clark County Combined Health District.

The News-Sun was unable to obtain coronavirus data for all county jails in Ohio to see how Clark County ranks with other institutions. ODH and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Corrections did not respond to multiple requests for COVID-19 data on jail inmates.

However, ODH keeps an online database for Ohio’s prison inmates that is updated daily but that database does not provide information on jail inmates. The database shows that 6,709 Ohio inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 and 91 have died, as of Monday afternoon.

Clark County Sheriff Deborah Burchett attributes Clark County’s ability to keep the virus out of the jail to three things: screening inmates upon booking, keeping the jail’s population down and sanitizing the jail weekly.

When inmates are booked into the jail, they are immediately screened with a COVID questionnaire from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Corrections, Burchett said.

“When they are first brought in they are put into an individual cell and the officer will come in take their temperature and ask them COVID questions like have they been exposed, stuff like that,” Burchett said. “If they have been exposed they go to a specific cell and a nurse will come down and test them. They won’t leave that cell until the test comes back.”

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In addition to screening inmates, the sheriff’s office has also been keeping the jails population down. Usually, the jail population hovers around 200 to 220 inmates, Burchett said, but throughout the pandemic, the sheriff’s office has worked with the county’s judges to keep the jail’s population closer to 130 by the judges being more lenient on bonds for residents charged with low-level crimes.

“That fluctuates. If it’s the weekend sometimes it can get to 150 or 155, but that goes up or down. Right now we are at about 136, we would like it to be lower but that’s an okay number,” Burchett said “But the public should know that if someone needs to come to jail, they will go to jail. When we are talking about keeping the population down, we are talking about people with non-violent misdemeanor charges.”

With a lower jail population, Burchett said, crews can protect inmates from COVID-19 once they have been booked by being able to move them into other cells temporarily while cleaning.

“We use a mixture of bleach and water and spray everything down,” Burchett said. “Keeping the inmates isolated and keeping the jail clean, I think that it’s really made a huge difference.”

Deputy Shaun Lisle conducts the cleanings within the jail every Friday or Saturday. He said he agrees with Burchett that the cleanings have made a difference within the jail.

“Even the inmates take this really seriously, you can tell that they are trying to keep things clean to make this easier on everyone,” Lisle said. “This really is a team effort on all fronts.”

Clark County had 2,379 cases, 58 deaths and four probable deaths of the coronavirus as of Monday afternoon, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

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Facts & Figures:

0: Cases of COVID-19 attributed to the Clark County Jail

1: Number of times per week the Sheriff’s Office is sanitizing the Clark County Jail

2,379: Total cases of COVID-19 identified in Clark County

In-depth coverage:

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