COVID-19 affecting the Mesa County Detention Facility

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — With widespread community transmission and COVID-19 cases increasing at an alarming rate in Mesa County, we know the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and detention facility could not be immune from being impacted. 

As of November 6, 2020, 6 inmates and 2 staff working in the Mesa County Detention Facility have tested positive for COVID-19. Affected inmates were immediately quarantined and any inmates that may have been exposed are being medically isolated from the rest of the facility. Additional symptomatic inmates are pending testing. Our on-site medical staff is monitoring everyone’s condition and providing care for individual symptoms. Infected staff are self-quarantining and not on duty. Employees identified through contact tracing with a possible exposure are self-isolating per public health recommendations. 

The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office continues to work closely with Mesa County Public Health and our medical provider to reduce the spread of this illness. Sheriff Matt Lewis has requested additional support from Mesa County Public Health to facilitate testing of impacted areas of the Mesa County Detention Facility. 

“As we work with our public health professionals, we will continue to implement strategies that put the health and safety of staff, inmates, and the community we serve first,” said Sheriff Matt Lewis. “Incarceration is difficult on families even without a global pandemic. I want to assure families with loved ones in our custody, we are taking this seriously and are working with our on-site medical provider and public health to provide the best care possible.”

During these rapidly evolving and stressful times, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office encourages people to stay in contact with their loved ones in the detention facility. While in-person video visitation remains suspended to prevent possible exposures, off-site video visitation is available as well as phone, email, and mail services. Visit Sheriff.MesaCounty.us for more information on how to utilize these services.

Operational changes

In March, Sheriff Lewis enacted emergency operating plans modifying daily operations and initiated rigorous screening and prevention measures for the Mesa County Detention Facility (MCDF) to minimize the risk of exposure to inmates and employees. These measures are still in place and include: 

  • All inmates are screened by on-site medical personnel before entering the detention facility as part of the normal booking process.
  • 24/7 on-site medical staff continuously monitor inmates and staff’s health.
  • Anyone with symptoms or is believed to have been exposed, are medically isolated until they can be evaluated further by medical staff per Mesa County Public Health procedures to include getting tested for COVID-19.
  • Inmates are issued masks and have access to additional cleaning products to disinfect common areas and personal living spaces as needed. The facility is also cleaned regularly to help with prevention.
  • All Mesa County Detention Facility staff are medically screened every day and are required to wear masks, wash hands frequently, and practice social distancing when possible.
  • Access to the detention facility is limited to only essential personnel. All non-essential volunteer programs have been suspended.
  • In-person video visitation has been suspended, off-site video visitation (still available)
  • Arrest standards were modified in partnership with Mesa County criminal justice agencies to reduce the detention facility’s population and allow for more room to medically isolate and quarantine individuals as needed.

These drastic and unprecedented measures implemented early on contributed greatly to how long the detention facility has gone without COVID-19 cases. The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to monitor employees and inmates for symptoms and is committed to taking any steps possible to mitigate the risks of contracting the illness. 

The threat of further infection will continue to increase over the next several weeks as we work together as a community to stem the tide of infection. We encourage the community to join us in following Mesa County Public Health recommendations to help reduce the spread.

For more information about operational changes at the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office visit https://sheriff.mesacounty.us/covid19

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