Protecting jail staff as well as incoming inmates receives high priority regularly, but the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened awareness of the need for even greater care, said Lincoln County Sheriff Jerome Kramer.
“We’ve got a screening process along with our regular medical questions we ask,” Kramer said. “We’re asking some additional questions to new intakes. If they have any symptoms, we will not put them in general population for a couple of days. We will isolate them right off the bat to make sure they’re clean.”
He said the staff normally operates at this level.
“The people we deal with here are generally some of the sickest in town in a lot of cases, as far as having infections and viruses,” Kramer said. “We keep a really clean facility here, probably one of the cleanest jails in Nebraska on a normal basis. We just don’t have much sickness here as far as any outbreaks of any kind, never have had.”
There is a space for isolation for those whose health may be a concern.
“We have one pod that we typically use for lockdown for behavioral purposes and medical purposes,” Kramer said. “We’re just using it if somebody comes down with something. This is nothing different — we commonly have people come down with a fever and flu symptoms — so we’re just handling it the same way.”
If somebody has a fever and flu symptoms, they will be medicated, Kramer said.
“So far they’ve just been getting over it in three days or so and we make sure after that they’re good for 48 hours or so when the fever doesn’t recur,” Kramer said. “Then we put them back into the general population, and so far that’s working well.”
He said they are working with the public defender’s office on bail reduction for those who are incarcerated for minor offenses.
The jail is sanitized every day as a normal procedure, Kramer said, but “all the work spaces are being sanitized more than normal.”
The detention center employs 33 people, with as many as four to eight working at a time, Kramer said..
“We’re 24/7 so we have three shifts a day,” he said.
As of Monday, inmates numbered 120 at the facility, with capacity at 135. Kramer noted that the facility has 163 beds on hand.
“It’s not like they’re crammed in here,” he said. “They can stay separated some. If they chose to, they could isolate themselves if they’re concerned.”
Visitation has not been restricted at this time, Kramer said.
“Our visitation is primarily by video,” Kramer said. “The only time it’s not is by appointment only. Nobody is requesting that because they don’t want to be exposed.”
Even in those cases, Kramer said there would be a glass between the visitor and the inmate.
Visitation can be done remotely online as well. There is a cost associated with that. Information is on the Lincoln County Detention Center website at lincolncountysheriff.us.