MCSO details new measures during COVID-19 pandemic

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is adapting to the new normal of the COVID-19 crisis, which has directly impacted deputies, correctional officers, and inmates.

On Thursday, Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone held a news conference to provide an update on the measures MCSO is taking.

For MCSO, managing the jail population is a top priority, with the population now down by a little more than 1,500. It started at around 7,000 in January.

As of Thursday, no inmates have tested postive for COVID-19. 28 inmates have been tested at last check, and seven are waiting for results.

"We’re trying time be creative. I'm looking for ways to ensure that we give our employees some later that is effective in managing the reduction and mitigation of potential exposure of this virus," said Sheriff Penzone.

Sheriff Penzone says MCSO has ordered cloth masks from a private vendor in Virginia, as a back up plan in case the supply of N95 masks cant be counted on as inventory is depleted for correctional officers.

Even though no inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, there are 21 inmates in medical housing for coronavirus symptoms.

"My understanding is if they deem the person is symptomatic and theyre not able to identify a cause other than COVID, then they’ll apply a COVID test, which are limited," said Sheriff Penzone.

Penzone says 75,000 more surgical masks are coming in this week for inmates. Each inmate will get one, as well as soap and cleaning supplies. Inmates wont be denied more if needed as well.

Meanwhile, dispatchers now ask COVID-19 specific questions during calls for service, to determine if direct contact is required

Sheriff Penzone says consistent crimes, including domestic violence, have not spiked or dropped.

"Depending on when this comes to conclusion, anxiety is a growing force, as is depression, impact on you economically, those other factors," said Sheriff Penzone.

Penzone also says multiple businesses have not followed the Governor Doug Ducey's executive orders, with one bar and restaurant has been cited for not complying. Penzone wants owners to realize the risks

"It’s not just affecting you. It’s affecting the quality of life of those who are putting their lives on the line.," said Sheriff Penzone.

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In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

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Stay home when you are sick.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

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