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ASO Official: Alachua County Jail now safer due to CARES Act funding

The Alachua County Sheriff's Office is changing some of their practices to protect their deputies and the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the changes include alternative methods for responding to calls.
The Alachua County Sheriff's Office is changing some of their practices to protect their deputies and the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the changes include alternative methods for responding to calls.(WCJB)
Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 3:19 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Jails have had some issues containing the coronavirus, however, an Alachua County Sheriff’s official is saying that the county jail is now safer.

Last week the County Commission approved $800,000 in CARES Act funding for improvements to the Alachua County Jail, and according to ASO Public Information Officer Art Forgey, these improvements will make the jail environment safer - especially in containing COVID-19.

Forgey says the jail will have a duct purification system installed to sanitize the air, and they will also be purchasing flash portable units. These units will allow them to clean areas before and after use.

This week ASO told WCJB the jail had six more positive cases of COVID-19 - among the 660 inmates, 35 have tested positive.

Disposable masks were issued/offered to all inmates in open bay/dormitory-type housing units since July, 2.

Inmates assigned to the infirmary will also be issued/offered masks.

Temperature checks and screening will continue for all incoming inmates.

Here is a breakdown from the County on where the funds will be going:

1. $21.1 million for Individual Assistance Grants

  • Rent, mortgage, utility, internet, phone and car payment assistance
  • Daycare assistance for school-aged children, if school attendance is limited
  • Documented issue related to COVID-19 (i.e. furloughed / laid off)
  • Citizens can apply for up to $5,000. The first-round of grants will be up to $2,500 with the possibility of up to an additional $2,500 in the future as funding allows.

2. $7.5 million for Small Business Relief Grants – 25 employees and less

  • Small retail, salons, non-essential businesses, daycares, etc.
  • Documented lost profit from required closure
  • Documented employees (non-owner/family) remaining on payroll while on required closure
  • Up to $10,000 total

3. $7.5 million for Medium Business relief grants – more than 25 to 50 employees

  • Sit down restaurants, entertainment venues, etc.
  • Documented lost profit from required closure
  • Documented employees (non-owner/family) remaining on payroll while on required closure
  • Up to $15,000 total

4. $2 million for Medical Expenses

  • $1,250,000 allocated to the Alachua County Department of Health for contact tracing specialists, epidemiologists, and related support staff for testing, tracing, case management, and containment of COVID-19.
  • $750,000 allocated to other medical expenses to include, but not be limited to:
  • Expansion of testing sites and capabilities
  • Example: Tents with climate mitigation, testing kits, additional sites
  • Increased emergency transport cost
  • Example: Decontamination units, overtime due to quarantine issues, drug costs

5. $2 million for Public Health Expenses

  • $1 million for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medical supplies for public health and safety workers
  • Example: Masks, face shields, gowns, and similar items
  • $250,000 for disinfecting of public areas and facilities such as nursing homes
  • Example: Aerosol units, spray systems, and disinfecting products
  • $250,000 for quarantining health care and public safety officers
  • Example: First responders, law enforcement officers, and health personnel
  • $250,000 for preparing public buildings to serve customers
  • Example: Social distancing markers, signage, modifying counter areas, etc.
  • $250,000 crisis intervention from trauma as a result of COVID-19

6. $1 million for payroll expenses

  • Local share of FEMA expenses for county, municipalities, and constitutional officer employees responding to COVID-19.

7. $3.3 million for expenses of actions to facilitate compliance with COVID-19-related public health measures

  • $800,000 maintaining the county jail, including as relates to sanitation and improvement of social distancing measures, to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions.
  • Example: Modification to Air Handling System, and inmates per pod / cell.
  • $500,000 local share of FEMA expenses for county, municipalities, and constitutional officer non-payroll expenses responding to COVID-19.
  • $500,000 cost to enforce public ordinances in place to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
  • Example: Overtime, additional staff, and law enforcement support

8. $2.5 million for any other COVID-19-related eligible expenses reasonably necessary to the function of government

  • To be held in reserve for programs not yet determined and expenses not yet anticipated. If not expended by October 30, 2020, this amount shall be redistributed to other categories.

Copyright 2020 WCJB. All rights reserved.

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