Nevada prison system making changes to try to prevent COVID-19 spread |

Nevada prison system making changes to try to prevent COVID-19 spread

Officials say they’ve made significant changes to try to keep the coronavirus out of Nevada’s prisons.

A spokesman said that, so far, the system has two people who have tested positive for the virus. He said both are staff members, one at Ely State Prison and one at High Desert in Southern Nevada.

Prison officials started efforts to prevent the spread of the virus by suspending all visitation at their facilities March 7. That order will remain in effect until medical experts working with state and local government agencies determine that the health and safety of staff and inmates is no longer threatened.

The web page posted to let people know what the department is doing states that all employees and contractors are screened for symptoms of the virus every morning when they arrive, including having their temperature taken. Anyone found with one of the three primary symptoms of the virus is sent home. Those are a temperature of 100.4 or higher, shortness of breath and dry cough. They have to get medical clearance or a negative test before returning to work.

Sanitation teams are making the rounds at gatehouses, visiting rooms and intake areas to clean all surfaces with bleach.

Incoming and outgoing staff and contractors are screened at shift changes as are offenders. Hand soap is available in cells and common areas and the department is urging everyone to wash hands frequently.

Medical professionals are wearing N95 respirator masks and other staff has increased access to clinical face masks and gloves.

Prison industries inmates are manufacturing hand sanitizer, gowns and protective masks.

Any offenders suspected of being sick are being immediately assessed and placed in the institution’s infirmary or medically observed in their cell. Staff have test kits to determine whether they are ill and culinary staff is alerted to provide them meals either in their cell or the infirmary.

Eligible offenders are provided two free phone calls a week to keep in touch with family and friends.