ORLEANS PARISH SHERIFF’S OFFICE UPDATE REGARDING COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS AND ACTIVITIES
NEW ORLEANS – April 3, 2020 – Following is a joint statement from Sheriff Marlin Gusman and Compliance Director Darnley R. Hodge regarding ongoing health monitoring of inmates and OPSO staff and contractors, as well as established precautions at the Orleans Justice Center (OJC) related COVID-19 prevention and treatment:
“Regarding OPSO staff, a total of 22 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 out of OPSO’s 896 employees. Three of those cases were diagnosed within the past 24 hours. Out of the 45 employees that have been tested, ten have tested negative and 13 are awaiting their test results. We now have 11 employees in self-quarantine.
Additionally, there are seven employees of the Orleans Justice Center’s contracted medical provider, WellPath, that have tested positive for COVID-19. Out of the 21 Wellpath employees that have been tested, six have tested negative, six are still in self-quarantine and eight are awaiting their results.
In total, two inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 including one inmate who was arrested last night. It was discovered during screening that this inmate was experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. He was then sent to a local hospital and returned to the Orleans Justice Center (OJC) with paperwork confirming that he has tested positive for the virus. This inmate is currently being housed at the Temporary Detention Center (TDC) and is in isolation.
The second inmate that has tested positive remains at a local hospital. Out of the 10 inmates that have been tested, four inmates have tested negative and four inmates are awaiting their results for COVID-19.
Our current inmate population in OJC is 754, and the population at the TDC is 42. There are nine inmates currently in the Intake and Processing Center (IPC) and Hunt Correctional Center currently has 20 inmates.”
“The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office has a plan in place for illnesses such as pandemic flu, which has been modified to better fit the recommended COVID-19 response procedures. We are in regular communication with the New Orleans Department of Health, the Louisiana Office of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure that we are taking the necessary steps to protect the public, our staff and our inmates and minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Following is a summary of the prevention and treatment measures that are in force at all OPSO facilities:
- On March 17, 2020, OPSO suspended all inmate transportation to the courts.
- Our medical department, Wellpath, has developed a coronavirus screening process for all new arrestees, current inmates and anyone who enters our facilities. This screening includes temperature screenings with the latest technology and several targeted questions surrounding their activities and interactions over the past 14 days.
- In addition to daily temperature screening, all inmates and OPSO staff undergo pulse oximeter checks daily.
- At this time, all non-essential visits to OPSO facilities are suspended.
- Attorney-client visits and inmates’ first appearances have shifted to video conferencing only.
- In keeping with normal routine, we are dispensing soap and other toiletries to inmates free of charge and staff is directing inmates to wash their hands frequently. The OPSO is also working to ensure that it is equipped with enough supplies to combat COVID-19 on a prolonged basis.
- Accommodations have also been made to quarantine any affected individuals in segregated cells. This protocol includes inmates that are being treated for non-COVID-19 health issues and according to the direction of the OPSO medical staff.
- OPSO staff is vigorously cleaning the facilities and hand sanitation stations have also been installed throughout the Orleans Justice Center.
All OPSO employees and contractors have been notified of this plan, advised on ways to avoid exposure to the virus, encouraged to practice social distancing and urged to notify their supervisors and stay home if they are feeling ill. Specifically, the OPSO has implemented the following procedures for OPSO staff:
- All OPSO employees are to remain in or on their assigned areas or posts. OPSO staff are prohibited from visiting areas other than their designated posts.
- At the OPSO entry screening point and before they enter the Orleans Justice Center, OPSO employees and contract personnel must self-report any contact they have had with an individual who has a presumptive positive or positive test for COVID-19.
- All OPSO staff who call off-duty for potential COVID-19 symptoms for themselves or a family member are required to submit a medical clearance prior to reporting to their assigned post.
As an educational tool for inmates and staff, OPSO has produced a series of videos that is airing on televisions across the facilities. The videos focus on the severity of the outbreak and address how to identify signs and symptoms, ways to prevent the spread and employee protocol surrounding COVID-19.
We have established protocol to test individuals for the virus and report cases to the CDC and Department of Health immediately. We also have detailed instructions and procedures for treating that individual or, if necessary, properly transporting that person to a designated medical facility.”
About the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office:
The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO) operates the jail facilities, providing for the care, custody and control of incarcerated individuals. The Sheriff’s Office executes all writs, orders, and processes of the Traffic, Municipal, Civil and Criminal courts. Sheriff’s Deputies are peace officers with the full authority to conduct criminal investigations and make arrests within Orleans Parish.