To ease the strain and the stress from the coronavirus the Berkeley County Detention Center has already released some low-level offenders.
Now, an additional step to help control a possible outbreak by sanitizing parts of the facility.
The Hill Finklea Detention Center has already tested two inmates for COVID-19 and the results are still pending.
In the meantime, Sheriff Duane Lewis wants to stay on offense in the fight against the virus.
On March 30, crews partnering with Germ-Nix, a disinfecting company based out of New Jersey were at the jail spraying high traffic areas where the spread of the virus could occur.
The non-carcinogenic chemical is approved by the CDC and EPA, and will also be sprayed in some agency vehicles.
“We anticipate doing most of the offices, the intake, the processing, the infirmary is a key focus, the kitchen is a key focus,” said Stacia Hylton, who partners with Germ-Nix and coordinates sanitizing crews.
Because of the virus, two weeks ago, the jail began the process of releasing some inmates through the courts. That move, combined with additional inmates getting transferred to the Department of Corrections, gives the jail about 284 inmates, numbers much lower than in the past but a virus like COVID-19 can still spread.
“We have inmates inside a closed facility and if we have an outbreak, you know, we’ve got employees that would be exposed as well as all the inmates inside the detention facility,” said Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis. “I think we are the first detention facility around, in this state that has taken this proactive measure.”
Lewis said he wants to stay ahead of the curve to help prevent the spread inside of the jail because the alternative could be a nightmare scenario.
“The unfortunate aspect of running a detention center is, I have nowhere to send these people,” said Lewis. “The Department of Corrections would not take them if they were infected. I can’t send them to the hospital because if we had a major outbreak, I don’t have enough personnel to guard them and the hospital is probably not going to take them anyway, except in serious cases.”