With the COVID-19 outbreak, Coffee County Sheriff Chad Partin and medical professionals at the Coffee County Jail have implemented procedures to curb the spread of the virus.

“We are taking every recommended precaution we can,” said Allan Jennings, RN, health site administrator at the jail. “At this time anyone who enters the facility is to have a temperature taken, this includes staff and visitors. Anyone with a temp above 100.4 is prohibited from entering and is encouraged to self-quarantine and call their provider for further instructions.”

To control the situations, at-risk individuals have been identified.

“We have identified all of our at-risk patients and we check them daily for signs and symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough and fever,” Jennings said. “All other inmate/patients have access to medical 24/7 if they have any symptoms.”

The efforts to ensure everyone stays healthy aren’t limited to the inmates.

 “We even check local city and county police officers when they bring in new inmates prior to coming into our booking room to decrease the risk of spread of infection,” Jennings said. “Visitation here for inmate/patients has always been done via video monitor and that still continues. This allows our guests to still maintain communication with their families during these times.”

Inmates continue to participate in the work program administered out of the jail. The program is for non-violent offenders. It allows inmates to work for county and city departments, with each day of work cutting two days off their sentence.

“The work program has not changed at this time, but every person coming back is screened by a nurse every day,” Jennings said.

Medical professionals at the jail have partnered with the local hospital.

“We have already reached out to our local hospital and they have agreed to come to the jail if we feel anyone has possibly contracted the virus so they can be tested here,” Jennings said. “However, everyone here is healthy, and there is no one with any of the symptoms of the virus so we have not had to perform these tests, but they are readily available should we need to.”

Activities have been cancelled or rescheduled, said Jennings.

“We have cancelled all extra-curricular activity until this disease has subsided and CDC recommends we resume full activity, this includes educational groups, religious groups, any other entity that may have need to come to our jail. These steps taken are being done at most jails, and again (this action is) highly recommended by CDC and our medical administrator.”

The capacity of the Coffee County Jail is 400. The most recent report of the Tennessee Department of Corrections shows that in January the facility housed 348 inmates, with 63 of them being state inmates.

Visitation changes

“Due to the situation that is occurring through the country with the Covid-19 virus and the recommendations from the CDC as well as the Tennessee State Government the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department will be following recommendations to keep the community and its citizens safe,” the sheriff’s department stated in a Facebook post March 18. 

“The Sheriff’s Department will be conducting business as usual with the following exceptions. The onsite visitation that usually occurs in the lobby of the jail will no longer be offered due to proximity that is offered in the visitation room. With the recommendation from the CDC and state government of social distancing as well as cleaning requirements between uses of the devices we have switched over to off-site visitation to allow family and friends to visit their people who are incarcerated in our facility at the location of their choice by way of smart phone, tablet, or computer.”

Visitors will receive two free visits per week in order for the department to remain in compliance with the visitation requirements.

“When coming to the physical location of the Sheriff’s Department, please keep these visits to a necessity,” the sheriff said. “We are taking the safety of our citizens, inmates, and staff seriously and want everyone to know that we will respond when called.” 

For information regarding warrant service, booking or ongoing investigations, call 931-728-3591. For an officer to be dispatched to your location or to speak with an officer, call 931-728-9555. For emergencies, call 911.

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