Mohave County Jail officials announced the facility’s first confirmed coronavirus case Wednesday, and Lake Havasu City officials are working to prevent the virus from entering Havasu’s own jail cells.
According to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, the male inmate was between the ages of 30 and 40, and was brought into the facility earlier this month from outside the state. Since the crisis began, protocol at the facility has been to quarantine all new prisoners at the facility and monitor them for symptoms in a restrictive housing unit, to prevent the risk of exposure within the main facility. It was during this process that jail officials said the inmate tested positive for the coronavirus.
“We are not going to release information about who the inmate is or where he is from, because it could result in ill effects for him at the facility,” said Mohave County Jail Capt. Don Bischoff. “He could be assaulted, or there could be operational problems if no one wants them in their housing unit … it goes on and on. If we release more information that becomes accessible to the inmates, they will figure out who this man is.”
Bischoff says the jail and sheriff’s office have maintained full disclosure in the case with the Mohave County Department of Public Health.
“In every housing unit at the jail, inmates are being advised of the case,” Bischoff said. “We’re addressing their concerns. This public health emergency has been ongoing for a while, but there is still a lot of misinformation and confusion out there. And there are a lot of people who are quickly overcome by fear.”
According to Bischoff, no inmate screened since the crisis began has shown symptoms of the coronavirus. Since early March, inmates and jail staff have sought to prevent the virus from entering the jail facility by screening all employees and new inmates, while limiting receptions of new inmates from other local law enforcement agencies.
The Lake Havasu City Police Department has sought to limit the risk of coronavirus exposure at Havasu’s own jail facility since March, with officers favoring citations and release for almost all suspected nonviolent offenders in the city’s custody. Work release programs were suspended at the jail, with only suspected felony offenders and those arrested on a range of more serious misdemeanor charges remaining in custody.
“The additional measures we have put in place so far appear to have been successful,” said Lake Havasu City Police Sgt. Tom Gray. “We will continue to follow best practices to help prevent the spread of any virus.”
According to Gray, jail staff remain vigilant in frequently cleaning and disinfecting all areas of the jail facility. As of Wednesday, there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus at Lake Havasu City Jail.