Officials say measures were taken early in the pandemic to keep the coronavirus out of the jail.
Photo Caption: Lauren Mack, Wellpath registered nurse assigned to the Frederick County Adult Detention Center (ADC), administers a routine temperature check to Capt. Tim Selin, ADC Director of Administrative Services. From the start of the disease to date, the Frederick County ADC has not had one inmate case of COVID.
Frederick, Md (KM) Since the early days of the pandemic, there have been no cases of COVID-19 reported among the inmates at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center. That’s according to Major Michael Cronise, Assistant Corrections Bureau Chief for the county. “We had gotten a lot of input from our health services provider and the staff were willing to do whatever we needed to do to incorporate those changes,”: he said. “And I’ll take dumb luck.”
Major Cronise says several measures were put in place early in the pandemic to keep the local facility safe for everyone. “We started making everyone–staff member, every inmate, wear masks. We began screening individuals outside before they even came into the facility to see if they had any symptoms of COVID. We established a 14-day quarantine for all inmates upon intake,”: he says.
Offenders who enter the Detention Center receive temperature checks and complete a COVID questionnaire, the Sheriff’s Office says. After their processing, the inmates are placed in a holding area. Within forum hours, the offenders receive a full screening from a nurse. Then they enter their 14-day quarantine.
In addition, in-person visitations were canceled, but inmates can use Skype to speak with their attorneys and family members, says Major Cronise. Also, some court hearings, such a bond reviews, can take place remotely with the inmate at the Detention Center, and the District Court judge back at the Court House. Central Booking has been closed.
With all of these measures put in place, Major Cronise says the Detention Center has contingency plans in place in case an inmate contracts the coronavirus. “We’ve actually had suspected inmates, and that was actually good for us in the fact it provided a test run for us in the event if we actually would have somebody,” he says.
And, Major Cronise says, there were inmates who claimed to have contacted COVID-19. “And we were able to verify that they actually weren’t. That they were doing it for other reasons to make this claim. We had people that had some of symptoms and it turned out to be something other than COVID,”: he says.
Now that vaccines and being distributed, Major Cronise says correctional officers at the Detention Center will receive the shots against the coronavirus. “We actually met with officials with the Frederick County Health Department approximately three weeks ago. We’ve established the procedures and the protocols in which we would do it,” he says.
Major Cronise said the Centers For Disease and Prevention had recommended correctional officers receive the vaccine along with first responders such as police officers, fire fighters and medics. “Someone at the CDC or the committee decided we were not,” he said. “We actually dropped to the fifth priority on the list. So that’s dynamic, fluid, it’s always changing. But we’re ready.”
“I want to recognize and commend the entire ADC staff for their commitment and diligence in adhering to best practices and rapidly changing restrictions to keep COVID-19 out of the detention center and inmate population,” says Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, in a statement. “The administrators, along with our medical staff, set strict policies and the correctional officers have diligently and successfully carried out these practices to date. Additionally, the inmates deserve credit for maintaining their own good sanitation practices.”
By Kevin McManus