It has been a year since Goodhue County recorded its first COVID-19 case and the Adult Detention Center continues to make many changes to operate safely and effectively. Deputies and jailers are limiting foot traffic and have installed two new cleaning systems to decrease potential exposure.
“Our staff have truly done an amazing job adapting and taking the added precautions needed to keep everyone safe and limit exposures,” Jeremy Lerfald, Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy, said.
The detention center houses people charged or convicted of crimes of all levels within Goodhue County and other jurisdictions. The jail typically houses detainees who have a sentence of a year or less and, under normal circumstances ,can hold up to 170 men and women.
During the pandemic, the local jail book-ins have been about the same, but there has been a declining daily population going back to pre-COVID-19. Currently, the facility is not boarding inmates from other agencies.
In January 2020, the daily population was approximately 119, which included several boarders from the Minnesota Department of Corrections. By April 1, 2020, the jail population was down to 57. Currently, the center houses 45.
To limit the number of people coming through the Red Wing Adult Detention Center, the intake process changed drastically. Prior to COVID-19, the arresting agency would escort the arrestee to the intake area. Now the staff at the center meet the arresting agency in the garage and escort the arrestee into the facility. The staff members wear full personal protective equipment, including a gown, gloves, mask and goggles or a shield.
During the book-in process, the arrestee is screened for COVID-19 and then quarantined for 14 days. Right before being moved to the general population, the detainee is re-screened for COVID-19 and tested using the Cue rapid test.
The Cue test through the Minnesota Department of Health is a point-of-care molecular test that uses a device, test cartridge and nasal swab to deliver results straight to an iPhone or iPad under 20 minutes.
“We were one of the first jails in the state to work with the Minnesota Department of Health on using Cue COVID-19 testing which allows us to test at our facility . . . ,” Lerfald said. “With these efforts, we have had no mass outbreaks and have successfully isolated all cases at entry.”
The detention center has suspended all volunteer programs, in-person meetings and Sentence to Serve, a program that allows inmates to work within the community in exchange for fines they have received by the court.
The Goodhue County court system has worked with the detention center to help reduce the number of people coming in by giving the lower level offenders court dates further out in the calendar when possible.
“We are trying to do everything we can to keep our staff and detainees safe in our facility,” Lerfald said.
The detention center used federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds to complete two large cleaning projects for the building.
An air ionization system was installed in the heating, ventilation and cooling air handlers in the jail and the Law Enforcement Center.
“This technology helps reduce airborne viruses and improves air quality throughout the facilities,” Lerfald said.
The center purchased an ultraviolet cleaning tower, which uses ultraviolet lighting to decontaminate areas to kill bacteria and viruses.
“This device is mobile and allows us to move it to several different areas of the facility,” Lerfald said.
The Goodhue County Adult Detention Center will continue all COVID-19 precautions in place to ensure the safety of their detainees, staff and visitors for the foreseeable future, he said.