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NEOCAP staying virus-free so far

Staff photo / R. Michael Semple Jake Jones, director of the Northeast Ohio Community Alternative Program in Warren, stands outside the Pine Avenue SE facility talking about the COVID-19 situation in his lockup.

WARREN — An official at the alternative lockup facility in Warren last week reported no positive COVID-19 cases among its residents during the span of the pandemic.

“Over the past few months, we have isolated eight residents,” said Jake Jones, director of the Northeast Ohio Community Alternative Program (NEOCAP) in Warren. “All of them quickly improved and returned to programming in about two to four days.”

NEOCAP is a community-based corrections facility operated by the Ohio Department of Corrections for several counties in northeast Ohio, including Trumbull County. It houses adults who are convicted of low-level felony crimes that judges think do not warrant incarceration in the prison system. In addition to the facility off Pine Avenue SE in Warren, NEOCAP operates another facility in Painesville.

To date, Jones said NEOCAP has not seen any resident coronavirus cases at either facility.

Jones said they isolate residents from the general population when they are experiencing signs of illness, and the staff has added protective glass barriers to stop the spread of airborne germs and viruses.

“We continue to conduct the precautions that we started from day one,” Jones said. “Namely, standard hygiene practices from staff and residents: hand washing, using hand sanitizer, cleaning and sanitizing the facility regularly.”

The NEOCAP website said all visitors have been prohibited from the facility, but families may drop off items for residents during business hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

The website said the dropped-off property must be clearly marked with the resident’s name. Excess property, not on approved resident property list, will be donated to charity. Any property brought outside of business hours will not be accepted and if left will be disposed of, the website notes.

Jones said staff and residents are required to wear face coverings, and he encourages sick staff to stay home and his 74 employees to practice social distancing and take their body temperatures daily.

“We have had approximately two-dozen staff quarantined at home at different times over the past three months for either having COVID-19 symptoms, being exposed, or testing positive,” Jones said.

New residents are quarantined and monitored for the first seven to 14 days of residency.

“The residents’ movements into the community are limited and we have slowed down our intake process,” Jones said noting NEOCAP in Warren is operating about 80 to 85 percent capacity.

Currently, the Warren facility is housing 60 women and 110 men, Jones said.

“We work closely with our medical staff to identify any resident experiencing illness. In circumstances where a resident is experiencing cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, the resident is placed in isolation until they are cleared by medical staff to return to the general population and programming,” he said.

The NEOCAP website said it allows residents to wear their own clothing but have few possessions. There is limited need for changes of clothing because locker space is limited. Laundry facilities are provided, and residents are expected to wash their own clothes.

The following items are not allowed at NEOCAP:

• Electronic equipment including radios, MP3 or CD players, and games;

• Calling cards or credit cards;

• Jewelry;

• All tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes;

• Expensive clothing, including shoes and coats;

• Aerosol spray cans.

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