The Park County Detention Center has done a remarkable job preventing COVID-19 from entering its facility.
Park County Sheriff Scott Steward attributed the facility’s success to taking necessary precautions long before required, prior to many other Wyoming jails taking action.
To date, there have been no documented inmate cases of the virus. No more than 10 employees have tested positive.
“That’s pretty outstanding,” Steward said.
It is a major feat considering the close quarters’ environment of a jail setting, with many walls, glass surfaces and bars, not to mention the coronavirus outbreaks seen at similar facilities. Wyoming Department of Corrections Director Dan Shannon reported earlier this month that 24.5% of Wyoming’s incarcerated population has contracted the virus at some point.
Early on in the pandemic, Steward was already having his staff wear masks around inmates and isolating new prisoners for the first 14 days after they were taken into custody. Suspects have been required to put on a mask as soon as they are arrested and are now screened for the virus as soon as they are taken into custody.
Steward said also critical was coordination he took with county attorney Bryan Skoric to reduce the number of people being taken into custody, making the joint decision to have deputies issue more citations with a release.
In 2020 there were 717 bookings in the Detention Center. In 2019 that total was 922.
“Reducing misdemeanor arrests unless they were serious violations,” Steward explained.
Typically, the facility has 45-70 inmates in custody at any given time.
Steward also credited the design of the built-in-2006 Detention Center and the presence of a full medical staff on-site as part of the success.