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A common suggestion is that having defendants in jail during a pandemic may actually be safer: isolated & can be quarantine. I want to share some thoughts regarding the challenge: (1)-it’s impossible to practice social distancing and heightened hygiene when 8,000 people are
detained in a close space. #COVID19 is extremely contagious and spreads through the air and from contaminated surfaces. When one person tests positive, there will be dozens more within a day or two. If even 20% of the jail population is infected, and that is a conservative
estimate, it will overwhelm the jail’s limited resources. (2)-we do not have the space or facilities to adequately quarantine people who test positive, nor do we have the medical facilities to respond to a serious case of #COVID19. Anyone who requires hospitalization, as 10% of
people infected do, will be sent to a local hospital. Admissions from the jail to the hospital will overwhelm and use up the county’s already limited beds and medical resources that are set aside to manage the pandemic. (3)-the jail is not a sealed environment and the virus will
spread to the community. Numerous staff come to work at the jail daily and leave to go home after their shifts. At work, they are necessarily in close contact with inmates to provide safety and security. If an outbreak spreads, staff will become infected and carry the virus
unknowingly back to their families and the larger Harris County community. Those three reasons are why we must consider public safety and public health right now to make smart, responsible decisions to release some inmates from the jail and create more room within the jail and
create more room within the jail to prevent further spread of the virus. We are at the beginning of an outbreak, with one confirmed case. If we work swiftly to release people who pose no threat to public safety, we can keep the outbreak numbers small. If we do nothing, we will
have over one hundred confirmed cases by this time next week, as we saw in the jails in Chicago and New York City. An outbreak of hundreds of confirmed cases will be a crisis for both the jail and for the larger Harris County community. #HouNews #lesm #crisismanagement
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