Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee said jail staff is taking proactive steps in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He provided local emergency first responders with information about what has been done of late at the county jail.
“I wanted to give y’all an update on what we’ve done at the jail because there’s a good chance that people in here — from city police officers to state patrol, firefighters, everybody — may come to our jail,” Massee said Friday during a meeting at Milledgeville Fire Rescue Services headquarters. “Not shooting at the state of Georgia, but as of about last Wednesday, they kept saying in the paper that everybody was prepared. We haven’t heard the first word from them.”
Massee said he decided to take proactive measures.
“Last Wednesday, I met with our jail staff and I said we’re going to address the jail the same as we did the MRSA outbreak several years ago when we had a staff infection,” Massee said.
The sheriff said they had used a lot of Clorox for cleaning purposes in the last several days.
“In fact, if you have a lung problem in our jail, it’s probably because we put too much Clorox in the water,” Massee said. “Our jail is probably cleaner than it’s ever been.”
Massee said he and his staff took the position with the flu as they had with coronavirus.
“It’s totally changed the way we handle booking,” Massee said. “We came up with a questionnaire for everybody who is booked in our jail. They are given a questionnaire that asks have they traveled anywhere out of the country or been on an airplane. And we also take their temperature.”
The sheriff said if an inmate has a temperature, the inmate is placed into medical isolation until jail staff can determine from medical personnel what the next steps should be.
“We’re not able to treat them there and we can't test them there but at least we know that they make [have] flu or some other type of infection,” Massee said. “We know they have something wrong with them and our people are following up with them.”
The sheriff said signs have also been posted inside the jail and lobby on the importance of everyone washing their hands as often as possible to prevent the spread of germs.
“I spoke with Dr. Joy Nelson and some other people on Thursday,” Massee said. “They sent me an email of how to make hand-sanitizer in case we can’t get it. So, we’ve been trying to be proactive about this.”
Massee said a deputy with his transport team had to go to Fulton County to pick up an inmate last week.
“And for those of y’all who don’t know it, sheriffs run jails in the state and we have 42,000 people in county jails,” Massee said. “That’s almost the population of Baldwin County. And on any given day, we have a lot of transports back and forth.”
The sheriff said there may come a point during the coronavirus pandemic where all the sheriffs and judges across the state temporarily stop the transport of inmates.
“We haven’t gotten to that point, yet,” Massee said.
Baldwin County Coroner John Gonzalez, who also oversees management operations with Grady Emergency Medical Services in Milledgeville and Baldwin County, asked about whether his people had masks at the jail.
“No, we don’t have masks,” Massee replied. “We don’t have enough masks. I don’t know what else to say. We’re just doing the best we can do to keep it clean and we’re doubling the amount of how we handle the washing of inmate clothing. We’re using Clorox on their clothes.”
The sheriff said he everyone realizes that the Clorox would eat up the clothing, but he and jail staff didn’t want inmates wearing clothing they didn’t think was properly sanitized.
Massee said jail staff had used it on the entire jail.
“And we’ll keep doing so,” he added.