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Trumbull jail has COVID-19 challenges; sheriff recovering at home

Sheriff recovering at home

WARREN — The Trumbull County jail has remained relatively free of COVID-19 infections during the first eight months of the pandemic, but recent days have brought new challenges.

Sheriff Paul Monroe is home, for example, recuperating from the virus.

And, jail administrator Maj. Daniel Mason reported one inmate is in isolation after he was arrested last weekend by Warren police and tested positive for COVID-19.

“The man didn’t catch the virus here,” Mason said. “Rather, he was brought to the hospital and then they released him to us, and Dr. (Phillip) Malvasi advised us to keep him in isolation for 14 days. He is currently not showing any symptoms.”

Mason said keeping the jail COVID-19 free has been made more difficult by staff shortages and an upgrade to the security system that was planned several years ago.

“We have to lock down because of switching over from the old to new system and back again,” Mason said.

He said his staff has 14 correction officers off because of either testing positive for COVID-19 or being in quarantine after having contact with someone who has tested positive. In total, there are about 72 jail correction officers.

New arrivals to the jail are “locked down for 10 days,” Mason said, and every inmate has their body temperature taken three times per day.

THE SHERIFF

Monroe on Thursday confirmed he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Monroe said he had “turned the corner” in his fight and is recuperating in a home quarantine. He said he has been fighting a number of symptoms.

“This is the first time that I have missed work in four years, but I am still working at home,” the sheriff said.

“I am no different from the rest of the law enforcement and other first responders who have been out there in the mix since March when this pandemic first started.”

Monroe noted about another half dozen deputies either are off or quarantined, but he promises Trumbull County residents that the quality of service given by his office will not drop.

“We have a plan in place. Although there are some deputies off, there will be others coming back to work,” Monroe said.

Monroe also urges residents, especially those in their late teens and early 20s, to take this virus seriously and obey all the safety precautions prescribed by health officials, especially during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

“I have worn a face mask and observed social distancing and still got the virus,” the sheriff said. “This thing is real and people who think they are invincible have to realize they may be passing it on to a more vulnerable loved one.”

UNHAPPY IN JAIL

Meanwhile, one jail inmate is not happy with the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A 41-year-old woman inmate wrote a letter to the Tribune Chronicle, saying the jail has been on a 23-and-a-half-hour lockdown since the end of September.

“We are only allowed out for 20 to 30 minutes a day,” wrote the woman, who has been in the jail since Oct. 6.

The inmate also wrote she had not witnessed any employee wearing a mask until 3 p.m. Nov. 4.

“The jail has not been cleaned or sanitized since I have been here,” she wrote. “We are all sharing showers, phones … the air we breathe without any percautions being taken.”

The sheriff and Mason both said the staff is doing everything to keep themselves and the prisoners as safe as possible.

“We are doing the lockdown to protect the inmates from each other,” Monroe said, noting that if the situation becomes rampant he can ask the courts to close the jail. “But I won’t do that.”

Monroe lauded the work of the corrections officers and pointed out they recently revived an inmate who about 20 hours later died at the hospital.

“They fought for that guy’s life like it was one of their family,” Monroe said. “Those are the guys who are the real heroes — the real story during this pandemic. I am very proud of them.”

gvogrin@tribtoday.com

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