Stacey Tinsley | Bossier Press-Tribune
COVID-19 has raged throughout U.S. jails and prisons, where people live together in close quarters and there is little opportunity for social distancing, a lack of basic sanitary supplies and high rates of chronic disease.
While inmates mostly stay behind concrete walls and barbed wire, those barriers can’t contain an infectious disease like COVID-19.
The Bossier Parish Maximum Security facility is one of the few jails that does not have an outbreak of COVID-19.
“We want to ensure the families of our staff and of those inmates that are in our care that the guidelines pertaining to COVID protocols laid out by the CDC and the state are being followed,” said Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington.
“It is our utmost priority to keep the citizens of Bossier Parish safe. We do this by continuing to provide the necessary equipment and procedures (i.e. masks, PPE, and temperature checks) to our staff, those in our custodial care, and to any citizen that visits one of our buildings, ensuring their safety as well. We will continue in this fight until we are all safe from the COVID -19 virus.”
The Bossier Max has had a total of 381 inmates that have tested positive for COVID-19. Out of that 381, 52 are starting the quarantine phase. A further breakdown of those numbers reveals 166 inmates tested positive in the Re-Entry Facility that are ending the quarantine phase and 163 inmates tested positive in the Medium Facility that are ending their quarantine phase.
Upon arrival inmates are questioned and screened for COVID-19. During that process, if they exhibit any symptoms of the disease, they are placed in a holding cell for the standard 10-day quarantine. Medical staff is on hand to test for COVID symptoms daily. If an inmate is cleared of any symptoms at the completion of the quarantine period, they are moved to an assigned cell within the facility.
According to the BSO, when an employee tests positive for COVID they will be able to return to work 10 calendar days from the positive test results providing that employee no longer shows symptoms of COVID, they no longer have a fever and are not taking medicines to suppress fever.
To further ensure the safety of personnel. BSO follows CDC guidelines: Masks are required, partitions, Personal Protective Equipment, and hand sanitizing stations are required when working with the public. The BSO no longer holds any meetings with a large number of people in attendance.
With COVID-19 vaccines now available to hospital personnel and nursing homes, many may ask when will staff and inmates at the Bossier Max receive the vaccine?
According to BSO personnel, it may be the middle of January before they can receive the vaccine.
Major Craig Stokes said the inmate population had been surveyed and that more than half said they are willing to take the vaccine.
At this time the Bossier Max has a total of 1056 inmates and 454 BSO personnel.