Police & Courts

Jail taking steps to prevent COVID-19 cases

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 27, 2020 5:10 am

QUINCY -- Regularly exceeding its capacity of about 120 inmates, the Adams County Jail has seen its average population dip this month, in an effort to keep the coronavirus from entering the facility.

The jail's population dipped to 77 Thursday.

Adams County Sheriff Brian VonderHaar said the county was able to reduce the population by moving up a scheduled transfer to the Illinois Department of Corrections and also releasing several low-level, nonviolent inmates.

"We're just doing the best we can to try and keep it out of here for as long as we can," VonderHaar said.

Jail personnel have moved inmates to help create a buffer when people are brought to the jail.

"Our goal is to create a couple sections for when we get new arrestees to attempt to quarantine them as long as we can," VonderHaar said. "Our major concern, as well as concerns of sheriffs throughout the state, is to do whatever we can to keep the virus out of the jail settings."

Cases have been reported in both the Cook County Jail and the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Meanwhile, construction continues on the new $32 million jail, with a possible operational date at the end of April.

"In fact if we could get that thing open sooner, it would help us alleviate a lot of problems right now," VonderHaar said.

As preparations continue for the opening of the facility, sheriff's department staff are taking precautions.

"We do the social spacing," VonderHaar said. "We attempt to go by the 10-man rule. When have meetings, we're separate. We're also are doing a lot of conference meetings now, even when in the office. So when I want to have a staff meeting with our administration, we do a conference call."

Access to the Adams County Courthouse has been limited since last week, with limited access to each of the offices to protect the staff and the public from the spread of the coronavirus.

All employees and visitors are screened upon entry with their temperature being taken at the door.

"All employees get screen tested every day when they show up to work," VonderHaar said. "There's nobody exempt."

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