MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – The Morris County Sheriff’s Office is reporting that one officer at the Morris County Correctional Facility has tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in self-isolation for the officer and special cleaning and ultraviolet light cleansing was done in portions of the facility, officials announced Sunday.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon has reiterated tough standards for staff at the jail to monitor their health, with orders to stay at home if they feel ill.
“It is increasingly clear that law enforcement, which must have some personal contact with the public, is at a greater risk of contracting the virus,’’ said Sheriff Gannon. “The Morris County Sheriff’s Office will continue to do everything within its power to mitigate the spread of the virus and do all that is possible to keep staff and inmates safe in these unprecedented times.’’
On Monday, March 16, employees at the county jail were required to begin taking their own body temperatures prior to signing in to work, as a health precaution regarding the virus. Then on Friday, March 20, one officer reported a slight fever, though it was lower than the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) guideline for maximum body temperature regarding COVID-19.
Out of an abundance of caution, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Corrections Administration asked the employee to go home, self-quarantine and notify a physician. On the same day, this officer was tested for the COVID-19 virus.
On Sunday, March 22, the officer was declared positive for COVID-19, the officer remains in self-quarantine.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officer, wishing for a speedy and full recovery,’’ said Sheriff Gannon.
In response to the positive test, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Group and the Morris County Office of Emergency Management performed an ultraviolet cleaning of various office areas at the Correctional Facility, to further enhance stringent cleaning procedures already in place.
Also, the following steps are being taken at the correctional facility:
- All employees who may be ill have been asked not to report to work, to help avoid a transfer of the illness to staff and inmates;
- Staff has been reminded that use of antipyretic medications and over-the-counter cough, respiratory, or flu medications should not be used if an employee is not feeling well. These medications may mask symptoms of the virus and will not prevent spread of infection to others if an employee using such medications is infected with COVID-19.
- Staff has been asked to increase hand washing, observe respiratory etiquette, social distancing (where and when possible) in and outside of the facility, and minimizing contact with unclean hands to the face, eyes, mouth, and nose, which remain an important tool in preventing infection.
- Staff also has been asked to help with monitor colleagues and inmates for visible signs of respiratory ailments and report such observations.
“While we would all like to be with our families during this time of national crisis, the men and woman of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office continue to work and do their jobs in a professional manner,’’ said Sheriff Gannon. Their efforts, dedication, and patience are greatly appreciated as we all work together through this difficult time.’’
“Although the jail’s current population of 205 inmates have access to medical services 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, they also are being pre-screened for fever upon admission to the facility, and whenever they are moved within the jail,” Morris County Undersheriff Alan Robinson said.
Additionally, temperature checks are conducted daily on all inmates in all new admission housing units. Should an inmate show signs such as a fever over 100.4, or shortness of breath, dry cough, and other signs of possible illness, they are medically evaluated and if a medical necessity exists, placed into isolation until a medical examination can take place.