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Jail suspends visits over health concerns

The Clark County Detention Center was one of the first jails in Kentucky to suspend inmate visitation because of concerns about the novel coronavirus, a deadly virus that has spread rapidly throughout the U.S. and around the world.

Local jail officials implemented the policy at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Other jails, including those in Fayette and Woodford counties and all state prisons, have also ended visitation to prevent the spread of the airborne infectious disease.

“It’s just for the safety of the inmates and the staff,” as well as the visiting public, Clark County Jailer Frank Doyle said Wednesday.

Jail officials said none of the inmates had any kind of virus as of Wednesday, but the steps taken are “a precaution.”

Doyle said he put a statement out on the jail’s Facebook page Tuesday to educate the public and keep people calm.

In the Facebook message, the Clark County Detention Center announced because of Gov. Andy Beshear’s public health emergency declaration, the jail was canceling “all visitations,” including those by outside volunteers and church services until further notice.

Normally, visitation is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The jail said it would notify the public when visitation rights are restored.

“This will last until procedures are set in place to protect all parties involved,” Doyle said in an email Wednesday.

Doyle said that currently, the only options available for communicating with friends and relatives in jail is by phone or in writing.

He said the jail is following instructions by the Department of Corrections to increase sanitation measures, limit movement of “non-offender traffic,” educate staff and inmates about the importance of good hygiene and limit or suspend inmate work programs outside the jail until further notice.

Doyle said there are no exceptions for attorneys and clergy to visit inmates in their cells, but they may visit with them from behind glass.

Doctors or other medical providers will be allowed inside the jail to attend to patients who are ill.

Corrections officers were escorting inmates to the district court building Wednesday, and jail officials explained that not all inmates can attend their hearings via videoconferencing. Sometimes it’s necessary for them to appear in court before a judge.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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