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COVID-19 Outbreak Reported at Harrison County Jail, Dispatch Center

The Harrison County Jail temporarily suspended taking in new inmates while the facility is under quarantine for a “small” outbreak of COVID-19.

While meeting with the Harrison County Board of Commissioners Wednesday morning, Sheriff Ronald “Joe” Myers told them that a small outbreak occurred at the jail Tuesday. He said the sheriff’s department hired Panhandle Cleaning & Restoration to come in and sanitize the entire facility. In the meantime, the facility is under quarantine for 14 days.

He said one inmate, who is not fully vaccinated, tested positive, which is why the two-week quarantine is necessary.

Myers said the department also had an outbreak at the dispatch center with about one-third of the staff testing positive for the virus. The remaining staff members are now working 12-hour shifts to cover for those who are out sick.

“Probably about two-thirds of the staff is vaccinated. The other third has not got vaccinated, and we’ll just have to deal with how we deal with it,” he said.

Following the meeting, the sheriff said he believes those staffers who tested positive had been vaccinated. Myers said they will be following Centers for Disease COntrol and Prevention and local health department guidelines.

“Everyone that had it (the virus) prior to this has recovered very well, but we are in basic lockdown now,” he added.

In other matters, commissioners approved placing a 1-mill replacement levy that would benefit the sheriff’s office on the May 3 ballot. The police levy was meant to appear on the Nov. 2 ballot last year; however, the sheriff’s office failed to meet the deadline for submission.

Myers said the levy would replace the current levy that has been in place for more than two decades. The levy is used to pay salaries and to help with upgrades and maintain equipment for the sheriff’s office.

If the levy is approved in May, it will go into effect in 2023. Replacement levies typically are designed to generate additional revenue by collecting taxes on increased property valuations.

Myers also thanked Commissioners Paul Coffland and Don Bethel for aiding in the purchase of a new body scanner that has been installed at the office’s new site at the former SSG George J. Conaway U.S. Army Reserve Center property along East Market Street in Cadiz. After they paid for the equipment and filled out the proper paperwork, the County Risk Sharing Authority, or CORSA, the office’s insurance provider, reimbursed them for $10,000. Myers then presented the county with a check for $10,000 as repayment for the money spent.

Also, commissioners signed an agreement with the Monroe County Jail to house the county’s inmates at that facility.

“We use them for our overflow (of inmates),” Myers said.

Harrison County has had a contract with Monroe County for the last few years, although the price has increased this year from $65 to $75 per inmate per day. He said everything else remains the same with the contract.

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