The Waseca County Jail and the Waseca Federal Correctional Institution have both taken precautions for COVID-19.
Andy Buckmeier, Waseca County Jail Administrator said the county jail has implemented pre-screening COVID-19 questions for staff, new arrestees and anyone else coming into the jail. The staff has masks available to them if needed or wanted.
Extra cleaning measures have also been added as well as procedures for separating the incoming inmates from the ones who are there already for a period of time to show signs or not of COVID-19.
There are no visitors permitted at this time to keep the number of people and possibility of exposure down.
Buckmeier also said the jail has delayed some people that were scheduled to report because of the COVID-19.
Some of the changes implemented are the department of corrections procedures or Waseca County Public Health and the jail’s health providers recommendations. Buckmeier said that most of the jails in the area are implementing similar procedures.
The Federal Correctional Institute in Waseca is following the parameters implemented across the bureau.
The bureau has dealt with responding to communicable disease outbreaks, such as influenza and Ebola in the past and has protocols in place because of it.
“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bureau has taken, and will continue to take aggressive steps to protect the safety and security of all staff and inmates, as well as visitors and members of the public,” Scott Taylor, Office of Public Affairs Information, Policy and Public Affairs Division, Federal Bureau of Prisons said in an email.
In order to best respond to the pandemic, the bureau has consulted with experts, including the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of the Vice President.
Procedures have been implemented based on the recommendations of these groups to best protect the staff, inmates and visitors of any FCI facility.
Screening of inmates and staff with potential exposure has been added and is continually being improved and changed.
As of April 1, the inmates of an FCI facility will have limited movement throughout their institution to maintain social distinction among the inmate population for 14 days in a nationwide action. A small number of inmates at a time will be allowed access to commissary, laundry, showers, telephone and electronic messaging access and medical and mental health care.
Taylor also said in the email that the bureau is also coordinating with the United States Marshals Service (USMS) to significantly decrease incoming movement over the next 14 days. Strategic institutions have been identified for mandatory movement needs, to include detention centers and empty units.
On April 5, all inmates and staff were issued surgical masks in the prisons.
Waseca FCI has been producing masks for the staff, inmate population and the community.
There are 15 FCI facilities that have prison industry factories beginning to produce masks for the staff and inmates as well. They are creating non-surgical medical gowns for medical facilities and packaging hand sanitizer for use within the Bureau and other agencies.