POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - The Idaho Department of Correction is taking measures to protect inmates from a potential COVID-19 outbreak.
“We have the N95 masks. We have the gloves,” said Janell Clement, the warden for the Pocatello Women's Correctional Center.
IDOC facilities are cleaning facilities and instructing inmates to increase their hygiene routines.
“On March 14, we suspended visitation,” Clement said. “Because the virus will attack, if it does, from the outside in. So we’re limiting it to staff and essential people that come in."
No visitors or volunteers are allowed in any Idaho prison. Inmates have to use digital means to stay in touch with the outside world.
Century Link gave PWCC inmates two free 15 minute phone calls a week in addition to their usual calls, and two free emails a week.
“That’s vital for our ladies to have that family support and we acknowledge that,” Clement said.
IDOC is taking extra precautions for those who are more vulnerable to the coronavirus.
“We’ve identified that “at risk population” and we’ve taken steps to move them and separate them from the rest of the population in order to keep them safe,” Clement said.
At PWCC, 97 women classified as "at risk" were moved into a separate unit.
Prisons are still taking in new inmates, but the IDOC is limiting transportation of people between facilities.
“We’re taking steps to screen them before they get on the bus to come for transport,” Clement said.
Work programs are also limited because of the virus, but the PWCC is trying to keep inmates working.
“We have some of our ladies that are working in the community with businesses that are essential and staying open. When they return to the facility, they are medically screened back in,” Clement said.