As more inmates, staff test positive for COVID-19, Dane County Jail ramping up safety measures

The measures taken to reduce the spread of the virus involves involves collaboration from several departments, from cops to courts

MADISON, Wis. — Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney confirmed three inmates and five deputies have tested positive for COVID-19.

“The measures we are going to are extreme cleaning and disinfecting,” he said.

Inmates who test positive are moved into a special quarantine unit away from the other inmates where they are treated by medical personnel and remain there until they no longer have symptoms.

Mahoney also has two Skytron UV emitter disinfecting robots on loan that are being used in the jail 24/7. The robots can kill bacteria and viruses on the spot and take around 30 minutes to disinfect a room.

Mahoney says his staff are also given special protective gear to wear so they don’t carry the virus outside the jail when they go home at the end of the day.

“Our biggest threat is the virus on the outside coming into the institution. There’s only two ways that can occur. That’s with the inmate population coming in carrying the virus or a staff member.”

Mahoney said they’ve released one of the inmates who tested positive to self-quarantine at home. Mahoney said the inmates charges weren’t enough to keep them there to potentially put others at risk.

“One of the reasons we are trying to get the population down is so we can spread out and provide more distance among those who are incarcerated.”

Mahoney said the jail population has decreased by hundreds to help maintain the COVID-19 situation inside the jail. Mahoney said the reduced number of inmates has been accomplished in several ways:

“We continue to work with our law enforcement partners from time of arrest with law enforcement to find alternatives, to placing a non-violent individual into jail, to our courts determining bail and probation and parole on revocations,” he said.

Incarceration is now the last option for criminal offenders depending on the severity of the crime.

“I think we are doing a good job but I’m always concerned about the potential spread of this virus and the potential impact could be.”