Monday, December 06, 2021
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NEW ORLEANS - 07-09-2020

Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman today accepted from Rapper Dee -1 a donation of 6,000 masks intended for inmates, who have been wearing masks inside the Orleans Justice Center for the past several months.

"Early on in this pandemic, the Sheriff's Office has undertaken a variety of measures to keep the coronavirus at bay, including testing all staff and inmates, boosting its stockpile of personal protective equipment, deep cleaning facilities and issuing masks to inmates, " Sheriff Gusman said. "We're pleased that Rapper Dee-1 is supporting our efforts to control this pandemic."

Rapper Dee-1 partnered with Pastor Mike McBride of Masks for the People to supply the masks to the Sheriff's Office. "It's important for me to make this donation because I've dedicated my whole life to serving those in need, at all times, in any way possible," Dee-1 said. "This pandemic has really placed each and every one of us in the same boat. We must be conscious of protecting not just ourselves but others; not simply to be 'aware' of those in need but to explore ways where we can share our resources in an effort to help. This is what it's about for me and this is what it will continue to be about."

Dee-1 presented masks and boxes of hand sanitizer to Sheriff Gusman at a press conference attended by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. Also on hand was Dr. Kyshun Webster, executive director of the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center (JJIC) which will receive 500 masks donated by Dee-1.

Mayor Cantrell thanked Dee-1 for his donation to both agencies, adding that she "appreciates your commitment in working with our Sheriff, working with our Juvenile Justice Intervention Center as well. This is another way to show them that they matter, no matter what they are going through."

Dr. Webster said, "JJIC staff remains vigilant with taking measures to keep youth safe during this pandemic. Fortunately, we have not had any presumptive COVID cases among youth. So, this donation of PPE masks for our youth, from Dee-1, is greatly appreciated and will support JJIC's on-going efforts to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread within our facility."

Currently, OPSO has no known positive inmate cases and only four positive staffers who are not at work.

Following is a summary of the prevention and treatment measures that are in force at all OPSO facilities:

  • On March 17, 2020, OPSO suspended all inmate transportation to the courts.
  • Our medical department, Wellpath, has developed a coronavirus screening process for all new arrestees, current inmates and anyone who enters our facilities. This screening includes temperature screenings with the latest technology and several targeted questions surrounding their activities and interactions over the past 14 days.
  • In addition to daily temperature screening, all inmates with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 undergo pulse oximeter checks twice daily.
  • At this time, all non-essential visits to OPSO facilities are suspended.
  • Attorney-client visits and inmates' first appearances have shifted to video conferencing only.
  • In keeping with normal routine, we are dispensing soap and other toiletries to inmates free of charge and staff is directing inmates to wash their hands frequently. The OPSO is also working to ensure that it is equipped with enough supplies to combat COVID-19 on a prolonged basis.
  • Security personnel limit the number of inmates that are allowed out at any one time to increase social distancing.
  • Accommodations have also been made to quarantine any affected individuals in segregated cells. This protocol includes inmates that are being treated for non-COVID-19 health issues and according to the direction of the OPSO medical staff.
  • OPSO staff is vigorously cleaning the facilities and hand sanitation stations have also been installed throughout the Orleans Justice Center.

All OPSO employees and contractors have been notified of this plan, advised on ways to avoid exposure to the virus, encouraged to practice social distancing and urged to notify their supervisors and stay home if they are feeling ill. Specifically, the OPSO has implemented the following procedures for OPSO staff:

  • All OPSO employees are to remain in or on their assigned areas or posts. OPSO staff is prohibited from visiting areas other than their designated posts.
  • At the OPSO entry screening point and before they enter the Orleans Justice Center, OPSO employees and contract personnel must self-report any contact they have had with an individual who has a presumptive positive or positive test for COVID-19.
  • All OPSO staff who call off-duty for potential COVID-19 symptoms for themselves or a family member is required to submit a medical clearance prior to reporting to their assigned post.

As an educational tool for inmates and staff, OPSO has produced a series of videos that is airing on televisions across the facilities. The videos focus on the severity of the outbreak and address how to identify signs and symptoms, ways to prevent the spread and employee protocol surrounding COVID-19.

We have established protocol to test individuals for the virus and report cases to the CDC and Department of Health immediately. We also have detailed instructions and procedures for treating that individual or, if necessary, properly transporting that person to a designated medical facility.

"As previously reported, three members of our OPSO staff, Lt. Garry P. Duplessis, Deputy Eric Frazier and Deputy Vanessa Mackey, have passed away from contracting COVID-19," Sheriff Gusman said. "They will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by all of us here at OPSO. As we reconcile our loss, we are continuing to work vigorously to contain and eliminate COVID-19 from within our facilities. We are currently doing a second mass testing of all staff, contractors and inmates."

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