Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, December 17, 2021

HCSO gets $440K Dept. of Health grant

The Tennessee Department of Health has awarded the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office a Health Epidemiology & Laboratory Capacity Confinement Facilities Award totaling $440,066.

The ELC award is part of the Department of Health’s mission to reduce and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in confinement facilities such as prisons and jails in Tennessee.

This funding is offered in partnership with the Center for Disease Control and the United States Department of Justice.

According to a March 2021 DOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report conducted from March 2020 to June 2020, jails conducted 215,360 inmate COVID-19 tests. Of those tests, more than 11% were positive.

The report further noted that jails in counties with confirmed residential COVID-19 infection rates of 1% or more tested nearly 21% of persons admitted to their jails.

In addition to the above study, The Marshall Project: COVID Cases in Prisons found that by mid-December 2020, one in five state and federal prisoners in the U.S. tested positive for the coronavirus – a rate more than four times higher than the general population.

Additionally, COVID-19 infections in confinement facility staff have also hampered daily operations and services to inmates.

The HCSO will utilize the funds awarded from this grant to purchase additional cleaning equipment to be used in its housing units, common spaces and transportation vehicles.

The grant will also support the implementation of a hospital grade air purification system for all of the housing units and common spaces and the construction of a new attorney-client visitation space that supports video visitation and court appearances with individual stations with partitions.

In addition, some of the funds will be utilized for COVID-19 inmate education and mitigation measures for HCSO Re-entry and Chaplaincy programming like desk barriers, thermometers and portable handwashing stations.

The HCSO Corrections Division has administered 516 COVID-19 vaccinations and performed 297 COVID-19 tests on inmates in 2021. As of Dec. 6, there were no inmates with COVID-19 at Silverdale.

To date, the HCSO has had 47 inmates test positive for COVID-19.

Source: HCSO